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Conservation, development and sustainable use of natural resources of Con Co marine and island protected area


   Con Co island marine protected area (Quang Tri province) was established in 2009 with the area of 4,532 ha, including 3 functional areas: strict protection zone (534 ha); ecological restoration zone (1,392 ha) and development zone (2,376 ha). With its importance and critical role in marine economic development strategy, Con Co marine protected area (MPA) is assessed to be one marine area in Viet Nam that has high biodiversity and diverse coral reef ecosystem and rare and precious fauna. In recent years, marine economic development has contributed to increase the income for fishermen. 

   Marine biodiversity values

   According to Con Co island MPA, it is estimated that there are 57 seagrass and algae species, 67 benthic fauna species, 19 crustacean species, 224 offshore fish species, 87 coral reef fishes, 164 phytoplankton species, 68 zooplankton species/groups in marine and island areas. The total marine resource reserves in Con Co island area are estimated to be around 40,000 tonnes, including many rare and precious marine species of high economic values such as: marine turtle, ornate spiny lobster, ghẹ (Portunus pelagicus), sea cucumber, vẹm xanh (Asian green mussel), điệp (noble scallop), mackerel, grouper, white pomfret,  cá hải quỳ (anemonefish), butterfly fish, red lionfish, crab, squid, trai tai tượng (giant clam), trai ngọc nữ (pearl oyster), abalone, ốc đụn (top shell), ốc gai (conch snail), ốc vú nàng (Cellana nigrolineata), starfish, sea urchin… In particular, the endemic stone crab that inhabits terrestrial and aquatic environment is in the list of strictly protective fauna species due to the threat of extinction. Con Co Island is also famous for phong ba tree (Heliotropium foertherianum), bàng vuông tree (Barringtonia asiatica) and some other endemic species, etc.

   In addition, the coral reef in Con Co is assessed to have diverse cover and species variety and it is relatively intact. As founded on the basalt stone, the coral reef has developed firmly and strongly. According to statistics, currently, there are 113 species, 42 genara and 15 families of corals, of which, there are many rare and precious corals such as black coral, red coral, san hô sừng (Junceella gemmacea), san hô cành (stony coral), san hô tấm (flat plate coral)… The red coral in Con Co is the first species discovered in Viet Nam.  The red coral is linked with famous legend in Con Co, becomes a spiritual “treasure” as well as a rare and precious produce for divers to see. The coral reef plays an important role to marine resources as well as in affecting biodiversity of the MPA. Therefore, the protection of the coral reef is very important to the sustainable development. Currently, the overexploitation together with environmental pollution has caused negative impacts on the coral reef. Road expansion, embankment, ship renovation, infrastructure or random rubbish disposal have also affected the coral reef.

   Conservation and sustainable development solutions

   Being aware of the importance of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources of the MPA, in recent years, Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee has instructed the MPA Management Board to implement solutions for marine resources protection such as establishing the zoning floats, protection of the coral reefs; cooperating with the Fishery Capture and Resources Protection Sub-department and the border station in the island to patrol and monitor the protection of ecosystems and natural resources; enhancing legal enforcement, strictly handling violations on fishery capture; forming voluntary groups consisting of local people who live in the island to implement the propaganda and to participate in the patrolling and monitoring and to timely identify bad behaviours causing negative impacts on Con Co marine and island areas; preventing manufacturing and capture activities that affect the sustainability and the integrity of the ecosystem and biodiversity of the MPA.

   At the same time, conduct the investigation, study and monitor the ecosystems and marine natural resources; implement scientific studies on testing of coral breeding, rehabilitation of marine resources; establish the natural resources and environment monitoring program, periodically monitor the coral reefs and sea algae to monitor yearly changes; promote to establish the Center for marine turtle rescue in the MPA, etc.

   Collaborate with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to develop the ecotourism development strategy in cooperation with different tourism sites in the province. To motivate people to apply environmentally friendly livelihood models such as stone crab eco-labelling model, say “no” to nylon bags, at-source waste separation, home-stay, etc.

   In addition, to promote the propaganda, education, awareness raising of local people in environmental protection, conservation and development of marine resources; organize training courses, publication, posters, leaflets and promote campaigns of cleaning the beach, contest on understanding of marine biodiversity; integrate education program into behaviour and proper response to the environment and marine ecosystem.

   Pay attention to disaster response and climate change, including planning and implementation of climate change response program, forecast the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity of the Con Co Island.

Cao Van Khien

Viet Nam Marine and Island Project Management Board

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