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Vietnam’s marine ecosystems in danger

Published on 23 July 2014 Vietnam

The country’s marine ecosystems includes 155,000 hectares of mangroves, 1,300 square kilometers of coral reefs, 500 square kilometers of lagoons, 16,000 hectares of seaweed and algae ecosystems, intertidal areas and estuaries.

The ecosystems provide many important services to people, with 20 million people indirectly influenced by the services and 8 million poor people living in the ecosystems.

According to the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development, the services of the coral reef ecosystem have an estimated total value of $100 million. One square kilometer of coral reefs can provide aquatic products worth $10,000.

In the Mekong River Delta, one square kilometer of mangroves can provide 450 kilos of aquatic products. The seaweed ecosystem brings aquatic products and services worth over $20 million, and lagoons can bring $2,000 per hectare.

The ecosystems not only bring economic value, but also help protect the living environment. The coral reefs in the central region protect the coastline, while the mangroves can reduce the land erosion and protect from typhoons and high tide.

One square meter of seaweed can create 10 liters of oxygen, helping balance O2 and CO2 in water and reduce greenhouse effects. Every acre of seaweed (0.44 hectare) can generate 10 tons of leaves every year.

The living mass provides food, habitats and breeding grounds to invertebrates and vertebrate species.


A survey of the Natural Resources and Maritime Environment Institute found that Vietnam’s maritime ecosystems have been diminishing over the last few decades.

Only one percent of the 1,300 square kilometers of coral reefs along the coastline is in good condition. The coral coverage fell sharply by 30 percent in 1993-2004.

Meanwhile, the mangrove ecosystem has shrunk since the beginning of the 20th century.

The survey also found that the aquatic creature volume caught on every hectare of lagoon fell by 50 percent in comparison with the last decade. The seaweed cover in Khanh Hoa province has shrunk by 80 hectares per annum.

Increasing human population, which leads to a higher demand for ecosystem services, has put pressure on the maritime ecosystems.

In 2000, Vietnam had only 250,000 hectares of shrimp hatchery areas, but the figure soared to 530,000 hectares in 2003. Vietnam is now listed among the countries with the largest shrimp-farming areas in the world.

Human production activities, including natural resource overexploitation, unsustainable aquaculture and industrial production, and climate change have also been damaging maritime ecosystems.

The Prime Minister in 2010 approved the maritime protection area (MPA) development program, under which Vietnam would have 16 MPAs with the total area of 169,617 hectares by 2020 and at least 0.24 percent of territorial waters belonging to MPAs, while 30 percent of every MPA area would be put under strict control.

Source: VietNam Net | 20 July 2014