Vietnam resort told to tear down fence blocking fishing village from the sea

By Nguyen Dong   April 10, 2018 | 08:42 pm PT
‘Locals are waking up to metal fences instead of the vast sea.’

The main investor in a so-called ecotourism project in Vietnam's central city of Da Nang has been ordered to pull down sections of a long metal fence that has been denying residents of Nam O Village access to the sea and in turn their livelihoods.

“The city has directed the municipal construction agency and the investor to adjust their plans so that public space by the sea is reopened to locals near Nam O Village,” city chairman Huynh Duc Tho told a meeting with local media on Tuesday.

A group of girls walk pass the 3-km metal fence that block locals in Da Nang City from the sea area of Nam O fishing village. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

A group of girls walk pass the 3-km metal fence that's blocking locals from access to the coach near Nam O fishing village. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Locals of the 700-year-old sea-bound Nam O Village to the northwest of Da Nang have been completely separated from the sea since May 2017 by a three-kilometer (1.15-mile) metal fence with barbed wire that was erected for an ecotourism project named Lancaster Nam O Resort.

Nam O is one of Vietnam’s oldest and most famous fish sauce-making villages, and has long been known for its serene, moss-covered rocky seashore.

In the name of the ecotourism project, 500 fishing households have already been relocated in accordance with a deal struck between Da Nang authorities and the investor in 2008.

Truong Quang Nghia, head of the city's Communist Party unit, said on Tuesday that the city has failed to “listen to the desires of local residents” and that “the story of Nam O has made headlines across the country but the city has not done anything about it.”

The resort has been gradually wiping out villages such as Nam O, and now "locals are waking up to metal fences instead of the vast sea," he said.

The Lancaster Nam O Resort project has changed investors twice and been adjusted several times, but in all cases, locals have been completely blocked off from the sea.

Last year, Da Nang put on hold a national tourism plan approved by the prime minister in November 2016 for the Son Tra Peninsula after receiving strong public criticism, including an online petition set up by Da Nang's Tourism Association asking for the peninsula to be left alone.

Son Tra covers more than 4,400 hectares (10,880 acres), rises to 700 meters at its peak, and acts as a natural shield for the central city, but a plan has been approved to reduce the forest coverage by half, leaving only 1,826 hectares of natural habitat.

“There should be no further construction,” said the petition, which received over 11,000 signatures. It added that the city already has enough hotel rooms to welcome 15 million visitors per year.

Da Nang tourism data showed 6.6 million visitors arrived in the city last year, up 19 percent against 2016.

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