Feature Story

Sustainable oceans: Protecting Viet Nam’s coastal environment and improving livelihoods 

June 21, 2018

In Viet Nam, coastal fisheries are a primary source of livelihood and an important source of protein for many coastal communities.

Coastal fisheries are a primary source of livelihood and an important source of protein for many coastal communities in Viet Nam.  However, in a number of provinces in the early 2000s,competition over resources, compounded by environmental degradation, led to near-depletion of some higher-value fish species.y.  As a result, many small-scale fishers were forced to abandon their operations seeking other sources of livelihood. 

In 2013, a Global Environment Facility (GEF) and World Bank project was set-up to help tackle these challenges in eight provinces: Ca Mau and Soc Trang, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen, and Binh Dinh, and Ha Tinh, Nghe An, and Thanh Hoa. Its aim was to help address competition by introducing co-management schemes, near-shore zoning and management (including for biodiversity conservation), wastewater treatment systems, and strengthening a fisheries database system to improve the management and governance of the sector. 

The project supported improvements to infrastructure at selected fishing ports to increase their operational efficiency, halt the decline in value of the catch, and thus provide a higher return to local fishers.  At the same time, the national fisheries database system (VnFishbase) was upgraded to provide reliable information for the management of the fisheries sector at national and sub-national levels, including fishing boat registration and recording capture quantity. 

The GEF Project helped to upgrade the national fisheries database system that included fishing boat registration and recording capture quantity. 

Over the course of the project, some 97 fisheries co-management groups were established, involving 13,751 fishing households along 826 km of coastline.  Fishing violations were reduced by over 30 percent. 

Improved aquaculture – or fish farming – practices were established, involving 8,971 participating shrimp farming households over a farming area of 11,622 ha. In addition, 32 aquaculture diversification zones were established involving 2,483 households over a farming area of 4,147 ha. These practices have increased fish quality, helped adopt appropriate wastewater treatment, and reduced the risk of disease by over 75 percent, helping improve the lives of all those dependent on fish farming.

Important lessons learned from the project helped drive policy changes to strengthen the fisheries sector, and a new fisheries law was passed by the National Assembly on November 21, 2017.

On April 25th, 2018, close to 30 countries jointly pledged US$4.1 billion to the GEF for its next four-year operational phase, known as GEF 7, during which the GEF will further increase its efforts to address pressing issues facing our oceans. 

The GEF7 International Waters strategy has the objective of strengthening the blue economy approach through national action and regional cooperation. This will require sustaining healthy coastal and marine ecosystems, catalyzing sustainable fisheries management, and addressing pollution reduction in marine environments.

The health of our oceans and fisheries will be a central topic during the Sixth GEF Assembly taking place in Da Nang, Viet Nam, June 27-28, 2018. High-level roundtable discussions on the blue economy, the circular economy and a systematic approach to address marine plastics will help identify options and approaches for integrating efforts across the entire supply chain to mitigate threats posed by plastics in the ocean, including the need for partnership between government, the private sector and financial institutions at local to global scales.