Blue economy – the gateway to sustainable development for Việt Nam

April 10, 2024 - 05:21
Marine biodiversity and diverse ecosystems have provided enormous seafood resources for the country’s economy
Quảng Ninh Province's Cô Tô, the frontier island in the northeast of Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Boosting the growth of blue economy, a key factor in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources (Goal 14) for sustainable development, has become a worldwide trend.

With great potential and advantages for the development of the marine economy, Việt Nam has caught up with this trend in order to achieve criteria in sustainable ocean-based economic development, realising the goal of becoming a country strong in sea and rich from sea.

Abundant, diverse potential

Việt Nam boasts a 3,260km coastline and more than 3,000 islands. The combined population of 28 coastal cities and provinces accounts for more than 50 per cent of the country’s total, with the majority working in sea-related industries. With its geopolitical and geo-economic conditions, Việt Nam has great potential to develop the marine economy.

According to the Việt Nam Department of Seas and Islands, the nation’s waters have 35 types of minerals with different reserves, of which oil and gas is the largest resource on the continental shelf. Alongside, Vietnamese seas are home to about 11,000 species of creatures residing in more than 20 typical ecosystem types belonging to six different marine biodiversity regions, and about 1,300 species on islands. Việt Nam’s sea is considered one of the 10 marine biodiversity hubs in the world.

Marine biodiversity and diverse ecosystems have provided enormous seafood resources for the country’s economy. Việt Nam has a large traditional fishing ground with more than 2,000 species of fish, of which 130 species have high economic value, along with over 600 species of crustaceans, molluscs and seaweed. The country’s average annual seafood reserve is estimated at about 4.364 million tonnes, not including resources in deep sea areas, floating mounds and continental shelves.

Meanwhile, Việt Nam also boasts great potential in aquaculture development in the sea and coastal areas. The country’s exploitable area is 500,000ha of closed coastal bays, near-shore islands and low tidal flats. To date, about 57,000ha have been under exploitation, while the remaining 443,000ha are still in potential form.

Marine tourism is a special advantage of Việt Nam with a contribution of 70 per cent to the total tourism revenue. With 125 large and small beaches, of which about 20 meet international scale and standards and having warm sunshine all year round, fresh air and many beautiful landscapes, Việt Nam enjoys ideal conditions to develop high-end resorts and tourism sites.

Another important advantage of Việt Nam is the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea), one of the busiest international maritime trade routes in the world connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans. Having the coast opening to all three directions of East, South and Southwest, Việt Nam enjoys good conditions for international trade development and marine economic integration.

Active transition to blue economic model

Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Chu Hồi, Standing Vice Chairman of the Việt Nam Fisheries Association, held that the oceans are facing great risks due to climate change, including sea level rise, resources exploitation activities, environmental pollution and other threats, which are growing in a fast and unpredictable manner.

In 2023, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment launched a national marine spatial planning project, which will be submitted to the Government before being considered by the Politburo and the National Assembly.

Director of the Việt Nam Department of Seas and Islands Nguyễn Đức Toàn said that the planning is comprehensive with "dynamic and open", "leading" and "integrative" characteristics, guiding marine and island exploitation and use activities in a sustainable manner.

UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam Ramla Khalidi underlined that the transition to a blue ocean economic model on the basis of preserving and promoting "natural marine capital", especially renewable sources such as wind energy, sea farming, and ecotourism, is considered a fundamental, long-term and sustainable solution for many coastal countries, including Việt Nam.

The marine spatial planning is necessary to bring Việt Nam’s great potential of offshore wind power development to full play. Once realised, it can contribute to meeting the energy targets in the National Power Development Plan VIII and achieving net-zero emission goal by 2050 as committed at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

To promote the growth of blue economy, the Government has conducted many practical activities to deal with ocean debris, especially plastic waste. With the joint efforts of the whole political system, the goal of expanding the Vietnamese ocean economy towards green and sustainable manner is getting close. — VNS