Coral reef protection in Con Dao

Con Dao is not only a famous national- level historic heritage but also a national park, which enjoys high biodiversity with many rare and endemic species. The Biodiversity of Con Dao National Park is also highly evaluated by domestic and national scientific experts. With the coral reefs of great originality and the highest Biodiversity in Vietnam, Con Dao has been included in the list of “the most protected areas ” by the World Bank.

Mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs in Con Dao National Park is home reared and seed dispersal seafood east coast – South East coasts of Vietnam and the South East Asia. More than 1,400 marine species in Con Dao National Park have been recorded, including over 340 species of coral and rare and precious species, such as sea turtles, Dugong, dolphins, giant clams…which are at risk of extinction globally… Notably, the freshened seawater phenomenon in 2005 has caused a die-off of many coral species in Con Dao… Along with that, the pressure caused by the mineral exploitation using toxins and coral destruction to collect giant clams has resulted in a serious decline in the area of coral. Worse still, the severe damage of coral reefs in Con Dao is the reason for marine resource decline, deteriorating situation in the – seafood sector and downgraded living quality.

In order to reduce the degradation of coral, in the framework of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and the coastal of Con Dao, Global Environment Facility (GEF) in coordination with the Danish International Development (DANIDA), the Board of Management of the National Park and fisherman in Con Dao have conduct restoration of coral reefs, that had been affected by the natural disaster, by planting alive coral reefs on the dead ones. The project has attracted the volunteerism of nearly 20 fishermen, who have previously exploited fisheries on coral reefs, to replant corals. These volunteers have been trained with needed skill and knowledge with the support of experts from Nha Trang Oceanography Institute. So far, fishermen in Con Dao has grown more than 4 hectares of coral using fixed piling method. Daily practices of these fishermen involve coral collection, harvest and selection in the regions where coral reefs grow fruitfully; gathering corals and receiving supplies and equipment from MB of Con Dao National Park, diving in the coral reef at the depth of 8-12 meters as well as examining planted reefs.

Nguyen Duc Thang, official of Science Department, Con Dao National Park, said the growing of coral required fixed cultivating medium so that new coral reefs can survive. Being sensitive animals, coral reef cannot survive in extreme temperature and salinity. Corals grow best between 21 – 30 Celsius degrees and 0.20 /00 and 0.30 / 00, salinity degrees. Therefore, the most difficult task of coral planting is to preserve newly planted coral reefs. Before planting, scientists had to study very carefully to select an appropriate variety of coral namely ac-robot-out.

The initial success of the project is the application of the co-management model and the conservation of biodiversity in Con Dao during its implementation. Coral planting activity has been raising awareness of Con Dao fishermen about the importance and value of coral reef ecosystems and is expected to restore coral reefs from Ong Cau beach area Dat Tham in Con Dao National Park.

Linh Chi