June 23, 2022
HANOI – The south-central province of Khánh Hoà is planning to suspend dive tourism in vulnerable coral reef areas in Nha Trang Bay due to serious reef degradation.
The Standing Board of the provincial Party Committee held a meeting earlier this week to look into the coral reef degradation in Hòn Mun Marine Protected Area and concluded that the media’s report on reef degradation in this place was true, according to an announcement recently released.
It blamed that fact on impacts accumulated over many years due to both objective and subjective causes.
The objective cause is impacts of climate change and two strong storms, Damrey in 2017 and Rai in 2021 (no acidization of the ocean water has occurred). Meanwhile, the subjective cause is said to be the lax management and insufficient coordination among relevant departments, sectors, and localities, along with impacts of improper human activities such as illegal fishing, illegal dredging, unregulated construction in the coastal areas, and waste release from tourism activities.
The Standing Board requested the Khánh Hoà People’s Committee suspend dive tourism activities in the vulnerable coral reef areas in the Nha Trang Bay, especially the area surrounding Hòn Mun Island, and take measures to protect those areas.
It ordered authorities of Khánh Hoà Province and Nha Trang City to conduct patrols to conserve the Hòn Mun Marine Protected Area, increase communications to raise locals and tourists’ awareness, and ask institutes, research centres, experts, and scientists to carry out studies and surveys so as to make a precise assessment of the situation and propose solutions.
Local governments and relevant authorities must report to the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee within July 2022 on long-term solutions when developing the Nha Trang Bay Restoration Master Plan. It is necessary to pay attention to the review of the management mechanism, conservation of Nha Trang Bay; capacity building of Nha Trang Bay’s Management Board; cooperation in the management of marine protected areas in Nha Trang Bay; researching, surveying, periodical evaluation of the conservation of coral reefs in Nha Trang Bay; researching proposal to establish “Hòn Bà – Cái River Biosphere Reserve” and “Nha Trang Bay International Marine Ecological Zone”.
The People’s Committee of Khánh Hoà Province should continue to call on NGOs, international organisations, people and businesses to join hands with the authorities to preserve the endemic and diverse values of Nha Trang Bay.
According to the Nha Trang Bay Management Board, the coral coverage in the waters to the northeast and southwest of Hòn Mun Island declined to 32.62 per cent (medium condition) in 2022 from 53.7 per cent (good condition) in 2015. In the areas to the southeast and northwest, the coverage stands at 11.15 per cent (poor condition) this year, down worryingly from 52.2 per cent (good condition) in 2015. — VNS