Viet Nam News
The Law on Sea and Island Natural Resources and Environment, which came into effect in July, is expected to create a breakthrough in the management of marine resources and environmental protection. Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyễn Linh Ngọc speaks to Việt Nam News about the law.
Can you talk about the importance of the law?
The approval of the law was an important legal milestone for Việt Nam, indicating that Việt Nam wants to be a nation growing strong and wealthy from the sea.
Drafting the law was tough as the content is quite complicated. It’s the first time that we legalised a new model of sea management called “integrated management”.
The mechanisms and tools to co-ordinate sectors at all levels ensure effective and sustainable exploitation and use of marine resources, respond to oil and toxic chemical spills at sea, and protect the interests of involved parties and the marine environment.
The law will also help resolve conflicts of interest arising from sector-based management and ensure reasonable and efficient use of resources and protection of the environment.
How will the law help harmonise regulations in marine management?
In past years, the management, exploitation and use of marine and island resources have greatly contributed to national development. However, the management of marine and island resources still mainly relies on a sector-based approach, while exploitation is not based on a comprehensive analysis of each marine area. There is a lack of harmony of the benefits of stakeholders in the exploitation and use of resources in the same marine area.
While activities on the sea are interrelated, sector-based management, in some cases, seeks to maximise benefits for individual sectors without considering the exploitation, use and protection of marine and island resources and environment as a whole. Therefore, this management approach has affected overall development and caused some problems such as deterioration of resources, especially renewable ones, environmental pollution and serious ecosystem damage.
In 2009, the Government issued a decree on integrated management of natural resources and environmental protection of the sea and islands. After six years of implementation, this Decree has revealed its limitations. It has not yet fully institutionalised all contents of integrated management and, as a sub-law document, cannot direct and co-ordinate resource management, exploitation and use activities in specialised laws.
To continue building and improving the legal system on the sea and raising the effectiveness of integrated management, enacting a law on marine and island resources and environment is necessary.
Việt Nam has a coastline of over 3,260km and an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf three times larger than its land. Many National Assembly deputies said that it’s necessary to establish a separate ministry on marine economy for better management. Do you agree?
The 21st century is the century of the ocean. In the time when the world’s inland natural resources have become exhausted, countries have established a ministry or a national agency working solely on marine and islands resources management, like the US, China, the UK, Canada, South Korea, and Italy. Some other countries apply the model in which whether the Prime Minister or a Deputy Prime Minister would head a national committee on this matter.
I agree that with the demand for integrated management, it’s necessary that we have a separate agency with adequate legal capacity and assigned with parallel functions so that it can operate effectively. However, to assign a sole ministry with functions and tasks relating to many sectors and areas need thorough and careful consideration and calculation so that these functions are not overlapping.
We have taken note of suggestions from National Assembly deputies and will co-ordinate with relevant agencies and learn from international experience to recommend a suitable model for Việt Nam. — VNS