Nha Trang wants diving back after coral recovery

By Bui Toan   August 21, 2023 | 08:02 am PT
Nha Trang wants diving back after coral recovery
A tourist dives in the sea of Hon Mun Marine Protected Area in Nha Trang Bay, June 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Kha Mai
Nha Trang Bay authorities have proposed the reopening of diving and swimming tours after a one-year suspension to protect coral reefs.

Huynh Binh Thanh, head of the bay’s management board, said the Institute of Oceanography at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology will inspect and assess the current state of coral reefs in Mun Island Marine Protected Area (MPA).

If the result is "good," some areas will be reopened for tourism activities, including swimming and diving, he said.

In June of last year, Khanh Hoa Province, which is home to Nha Trang Bay, ordered a halt to scuba diving and swimming tours in the MPA. The area had become vulnerable to coral reef destruction.

Established in 2001 over 160 square kilometers, the MPA was the first marine conservation project in Vietnam.

It encompasses nine islands, including Mun, famous for scuba diving tours.

An inspection by the management board earlier this year revealed that the island's coral reef had shrunk significantly compared to 2015.

The coral coverage rate had declined from more than 50% to 11% in its southeast region, from 54% to 32% in the northeast and to a mere 8% in the southwest.

Provincial authorities blamed the loss on climate change and two powerful storms in 2019 and 2021.

They also pointed to illegal fishing, dredging, construction of industrial parks, and waste discharge.

But now, after a one year suspension of tourism activities, the coral coverage rate in the MPA has climbed back to 74.5%.

Dead coral on the seabed of Mun Island, Nha Trang in June, 2022. Video by VnExpress/Mai Kha

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