Vietnam faces serious threats to its coral reefs, including blast and poison fishing, boat and anchor damage, over-fishing, and extraction for cement production and the marine ornamentals trade. Coral has been used to make cement in the Ninh Thuan Province since 1979. Originally, dead coral was harvested from farming land, but as supplies dwindled, mining companies moved to the coast to exploit coral directly from the sea.
To highlight the opportunities for local communities to influence the management of their collective resources, ICRAN, with the UNEP East Asian Seas Programme, and the Department of Science, Technology and Environment in Vietnam, worked with the local communities of Ninh Thuan to build awareness of the importance of coral reef resources, and to facilitate community based conservation action.
Local commune leaders were brought together to review the existing legislation for the protection and management of coral reefs in the Province, and to learn of the implications of ineffective management on livelihoods and the environment through a regional experience sharing workshop with managers from Apo Island, Philippines. In parallel, awareness raising activities were conducted to build reef stewardship, to garner support for the development of a marine park, and establish volunteer patrols by local fishermen to protect their coral reefs and fisheries. Teacher training to encourage the incorporation of environmental education programmes into school curricula was also undertaken.
As a result, the Ninh Thuan Provincial authorities in consultation with the local communities have endorsed their own regulations for the protection of coral reefs across the Province, created a marine reserve in Ninh Thuan, and have opposed the coral harvesting activities of the local cement factory, preventing further exploitation.