GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY:
As dawn breaks across the beach and the first rays of sunlight illuminate the turquoise waters of southern Viet Nam’s Ninh Hai coastline, fishermen are already hauling in their nets of shimmering, slithering silver fish. Here, in Nui Chua National Park, the sea is the backbone of the economy and the key source of sustenance for local families, many of whom have been fishermen for generations.
Ninh Hai plays host to the richest levels of marine biodiversity of any coastal region in Viet Nam, providing a habitat for approximately 310 species of coral, 304 species of reef fish and an endangered species of sea turtle. In this part of the South China Sea, coral reefs benefit from seasonal flows of cool water, a unique feature of these ecosystems that protects them from increasing sea temperatures and makes them hotbeds of biological diversity, vital to the region as breeding grounds that replenish nearby reefs with coral species.
Back in 2010, Nui Chua’s marine resources were under threat from overfishing, illegal fishing practices and the harvesting of seagrass and sea turtle eggs. Siltation from the construction of two nearby fishing ports also played a role in the degradation of this precious habitat. But the tide is turning for this corner of the South China Sea, with the local community, national park authorities and government agencies coming together to create and implement an ecosystem management plan with the support of UN Environment, the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), ensuring the preservation and sustainable use of the area’s marine resources.