Strategic Advice – Vietnam
Nha Trang Bay is Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort area, with a reputation for pristine beaches and the best SCUBA diving centre in the country. The Nha Trang Marine Protected Area is the country’s main attraction for snorkelling and SCUBA diving.
Supporting Protection and Improvement of Hon Mun MPZ
The centrepiece of this economic drawcard is the coral reefs of the Hon Mun Marine Protection Zone (MPZ). Approximately 700,000 tourist visits are made to the MPZ each year, equating to almost 2000 visitors per day. The natural attractions of the area, combined with the affordability of SCUBA diving courses and trips, set the scene for a regionally-significant tourism destination and sustainable economic resource.
Nha Trang Bay is Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort area, with a reputation for pristine beaches and the best SCUBA diving centre in the country. The Nha Trang Marine Protected Area is the country’s main attraction for snorkelling and SCUBA diving. The centrepiece of this economic drawcard is the coral reefs of the Hon Mun Marine Protection Zone (MPZ). Approximately 700,000 tourist visits are made to the MPZ each year, equating to almost 2000 visitors per day. The natural attractions of the area, combined with the affordability of SCUBA diving courses and trips, set the scene for a regionally-significant tourism destination and sustainable economic resource.
Effective and strategic management of the Hon Mun MPZ is central to achieving and sustaining the full economic opportunities for the region, and for protecting the regionally-important biodiversity of Nha Trang’s coral reefs. Hon Mun MPZ was established in 2001 in a collaborative initiative involving Ministry of Fisheries, People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa province and IUCN – the World Conversation Union. The establishment and early operation of the MPZ was also supported by Global Environment Fund through World Bank, Royal Danish Government through DANIDA and IUCN, along with reciprocal capital from Vietnam Government. Currently, the MPZ is managed by the Nha Trang Bay MPA Authority established by the Khanh Hoa Province People’s Committee (PPC). Management is guided by a MPZ Management Plan.
Improving management will protect biodiversity and sustain economic opportunities
Several reports and reviews of the effectiveness of the MPZ were published around 2005 at the conclusion of the major international funding initiatives. These highlighted the significant achievements and successes associated with the establishment of the MPZ and the relevant governance structures and personnel capacity. However, they also identified some ongoing challenges. Many of these issues, such as crown-of-thorns starfish, tourism management and improved zoning have been exacerbated by the rapid growth in tourism visitation and changing environmental conditions.
Improving the outlook through strategic interventions– an investment strategy
The findings of the Reef Ecologic scoping study concluded that the Hon Mun MPZ is in a moderate state of health, with numerous indications of pressures and threats that could accelerate further degradation without urgent and effective management interventions. These observations are consistent with earlier reports, indicating that key pressures and threats affecting Hon Mun MPZ have been steadily increasing, but that it is not too late to act to protect and effectively manage this jewel in Vietnam’s crown of natural areas.
Drawing on their extensive international expertise, Reef Ecologic have identified a series of key challenges for Hon Mun MPZ that can be addressed through tactical and strategic interventions.
Scoping Assessment Hon Mun Marine Protected Zone
Over the past four decades, thousands of marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established worldwide. The first MPA established in Vietnam was the Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2001. The main objectives of MPAs in Vietnam are to conserve the biodiversity and improve livelihoods. The site is an “area of highest national priority” for marine conservation and coastal tourism in Vietnam. Nha Trang Bay MPA comprises 9 islands of which Hon Mun is the furthest south.
The creation of MPAs requires the evaluation of management effectiveness. A recent review of the management effectiveness of Nha Trang Bay MPA by Walton et al (2014) identified 4 threats to target resources: Overfishing, Illegal coral exploitation for tourist development, Disturbances in bottom sediment due to harbour dredging and anchoring and water pollution in the Bay.
Reef Ecologic Pty Ltd, an Australian company with global expertise on marine protected area research, assessment and management, were invited to visit Hon Mun Marine Protected Zone to conduct a scoping assessment and provide expert advice. Between 21-25 March, 2017 Reef Ecologic completed 14 sites assessments of coral, fish and invertebrates within Hon Mun Marine Protected Zone. We identified that corals were in good to moderate condition. Fish species were diverse but comprised abundant small, herbivores and larger, predatory fish were rare.
Our expert view was that there were nine issues of concern to the desired outcomes of the Nha Trang Bay MPA and specifically Hon Mun Marine Protected Zone that could be improved with targeted projects.
- Over-abundance of fire coral
- Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS)
- Illegal fishing
- Visitor Centre
- Sustainable tourism management
- Site Planning
- Marine debris
We held several meetings with key stakeholders to present our assessment findings and have made recommendations for six priority projects to meet the objective to help restore valuable coral reef at Hon Mun Marine Protected Zone, in the coastal area of Khanh Hoa Province.