The Hanoitimes - According to the Directorate of Fisheries, Vietnam’s seas are home to about 1,100 square kilometres of coral reefs with 240 species.
The directorate, operating under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said coral reefs are important to ensuring ecological balance and providing nutrition for the sea. They are also the habitat of many aquatic species. Despite their significant value, Vietnam loses more than 50 tonnes of coral every year, excluding black corals off the coast of Hai Phong city and such provinces as Quang Ninh, Quang Binh and Quang Tri.
The loss of coral reefs will lead to the exhaustion of fisheries resources as they harbour 25 percent of marine species, according to the directorate. It added that to recover the marine ecosystem, it is necessary to clean sea water while managerial agencies must ban destructive fishing and waste release.
Scientists from the Institute of Oceanography in Nha Trang city, the southern central province of Khanh Hoa, have built artificial reefs to aid coral recovery off the coast of Bang Thang cape in Nha Trang Bay. From October 2013 to September 2016, they built 100 structures with a total length of 150 metres that helped recover 4,000 sq.m. of coral. They also assessed seawater quality and measured hydro-litho dynamics in Nha Trang Bay to prepare for future coral restoration.
The project, carried out at a cost of more than 940 million VND (42,100 USD), may now be applied to other waters in Khanh Hoa and other coastal provinces. Earlier, the Institute of Oceanography implemented a similar project that applied coral restoration technologies in some marine reserves from 2011 to 2013. As a result, more than 5,550 sq.m. of coral was developed in the Marine Protected Area of Nha Trang Bay.
The activities were among efforts to restore local coral reefs which have shrunk dramatically due to illegal fishing and exploitation. Nha Trang Bay, as well as other waters in Khanh Hoa like Van Phong and Cam Ranh Bays, harbour diverse natural coral reefs. Nha Trang Bay alone is home to more than 340 coral species covering hundreds of hectares.
The project “Application of techniques for hard coral restoration in targeted marine areas” has revitalised over 10,700 square metres of coral in the Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham) Biosphere Reserve in Quang Nam and the Nha Trang Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Khanh Hoa.
According to Dr. Dao Viet Ha from the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, each coral species was placed in the most ecologically suitable areas, ensuring survival rates over 60 percent. Coral coverage in Nha Trang Bay MPA has significantly expanded to 5,550 square metres and coral-reef fish density has grown 1.4 times in the northeast coast of Hon Mun Island and 2.1 times in Vinpearl. Additionally, several marine species were newly found in the area including giant clams.
The Cham Islands also enjoyed similar project outcomes as coral-reef fish density in the surrounding area multiplied 1.6 times and 1.2 times in Bai Bac and Bai Huong beaches, respectively. After the conclusion of the project, managers of Nha Trang Bay, Vinpearl and the Cham Islands will apply their amassed knowledge and techniques to protect and further expand the coral reefs.
By Anh Kiet