The overexploitation of corals in Van Hung Commune of Van Ninh district in Khanh Hoa once destroyed the ecological environment, while the aquatic sources got depleted. The Ran Trao coral reef was left as the only “forest” in the hurt sea bed. Ten years ago, local residents of the Van Hung Commune vowed to protect Tran Tao. Thanks to their great efforts, the forest has nearly revived.
Just covering an area of 90 hectares, but Ran Trao contained 82 coral varieties, 69reef fish species, six species of sea grass and five mangrove plant species. Ran Trao is one of the places which provide natural sources of valuable marine species, such as lobster, grouper, sea cucumbers, snails to the whole Van Phong Bay.
Nguyen Cuong, one of the fisherman, who voluntarily joined the team of protecting the sea, said that unlike the 15 years ago, 85 percent of local residents have been aware of the importance of the coral reefs to their livelihood and they understand that it is necessary to protect the natural resources. Overexploitation nearly killed coral reefs
Nguyen Van Chim in Xuan Tu 2 hamlet, recalled that in 1990s; people flocked to the commune to breed lobsters for profit, which then seriously devastated coral reefs. Fishermen also killed coral reefs during their trips to the open sea. Several years before, people once came there to exploit coral reefs to bring to the Central Highlands, where corals were used as fertilizer for the coffee plants. As a result, a vast area on the ocean bed got ravaged.
Aquatic resources got depleted. People tried to exploit corals not only by hands, but they also used mines, toxic substances which killed small fishes as well. The Van Hung Commune witnessed 3-4 people losing their legs and hands because using mines to exploit aquatic products. Two people were killed also because of the same reason.
Cuong and other fishermen in the sea village felt sorry for the overexploited sea. Many years ago, it took them just four hours to catch 30-40 kilos of lobsters, while they could catch 2-3 kilos at maximum now.
“I am afraid that one day, my grandchildren would ask me: “What was the fish like?” because they never can see that kind of fish,” Cuong said.
In 2000, a group of experts from the central marine conservation and community development (MCD) arrived in Van Hung. They said coral reefs are considered the green forests that protect the sea. Cuong, Chim and many other people realized that coral is a diverse ecosystem, the lung and the life of countless species. Therefore, keeping coral species means keeping the aquatic resources for the region.
From that day, Cuong and many other local residents have been trying to protect the sea and prevent people from devastating coral reefs. Three months later, a nucleus team in charge of protecting Ran Trao was officially established. As such, the model of preserving the sea with the management of the community, has been established with the technical support of MCD. Coming back to life
Recalling the first days of implementing the task of protecting coral reefs, Cuong said these were very tough days. All the fishing and aquaculture activities are prohibited in the area. No one can bring anything to the area, and they cannot take away anything from there.
However, no one has given up the game, even though every of them could get 300,000 dong a month, and the money for fuel.
Not only trying to protect coral reefs, local residents have been trying to cultivate coral reefs. 80-90 percent of corals developed by local residents can live, the achievement that no one could imagine before, even scientists. Source: SGTT