Numerous regulations have been promulgated and a lot of action plans have been drawn up within the framework of the sea conservation strategy. However, not much has been done to protect the sea.
Local authorities turn “a deaf ear” to proposals on sea protection
At a meeting with the press, Truong Kinh, Director of the Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA) said the MPA has almost no voice on issues relating to the economic development of the locality.
“Our proposals on sea protection have been ignored when localities grant investment licenses to tourism projects,” Kinh said.
“Especially, in the eyes of investors, we are like a big hindrance for their investment projects, while in the eyes of many local people, we are an obstacle for local economic development,” he added.
Also according to Kinh, as for the tourism, resort and hotel projects on Hon Tre Island, located in the territory of the MPA, the MPA’s management board “cannot lay a hand on the projects.” It cannot carry out the management work within its own jurisdiction.
The investors said “don’t poke your nose into others’ business,” arguing that they do not have to consult with the MPA, they just have to follow business law.
The project on Nha Trang sea conservation, as Kinh pointed out, cannot meet the requirements for regional sea protection. “Our suggestions about policies to be applied to the MPA have always been put aside, because policy makers do not understand them, while leaders also do not understand,” Kinh complained.
When the project on Nha Trang Bay preservation entered the second phase (2006-2011), the steering committee at the provincial level did not continue operation. As a result, the link between the provincial steering committee and branches and local authorities has been severed, while support for activities to preserve the sea has also stopped.
Meanwhile, Vietnam still lacks a full legal framework for marine protection. In the past, Vietnam applied the policy under which a fee was collected from visitors and investment projects, which were considered the biggest threat to the ecosystem and the marine environment. The money collected was used for sea preservation activities.
However, the fee collection in the investment areas has been ended, because investors have refused to pay. No one can force investors to pay this kind of fee, because of the unclear legal framework.
Especially, state management agencies have been very slow in promulgating legal documents that guide sea preservation activities.
In 2008, government decree 57 on the management mechanism applied to MPA was promulgated. However, there has been no circular guiding the implementation of the decree so far. In 2010, the Prime Minister issued Decision 742 on the programming of MPAs in Vietnam by 2020. However, to date, local authorities are still awaiting guidance from ministries and branches.
The latest fact-finding trip conducted recently by scientists discovered sediment on many sea areas, which has been caused by the construction of tourism projects. A lot of coral reefs have died.
Recently, the MPA’s management board has requested the Khanh Hoa provincial authorities to add Dam Tre into the MPA, to protect and maintain the sea turtle spawning ground.
Besides, the board has also proposed setting up a sea turtle rescue center. The local sea turtles are facing a major threat caused by massive construction. A lot of tourism projects have been and will be located on both the spawning grounds of Khanh Hoa province, Bai Dai (belonging to Cam Ranh Bay) and Dam Tre (belonging to Nha Trang bay).
According to Kinh, the spawning grounds have been chosen and used by the sea turtles for hundreds of years, and humans should not intervene.