Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a resource management tool that can be used to slow down and eventually reverse degradation of coastal ecosystems. Globally, scientists have recognized the value of MPAs, especially no-take marine reserves, in improving marine ecosystem health, including the viability of fisheries (NCEAS 2001). Furthermore, MPAs can help to support alternative livelihoods by promoting sustainable use of coastal resources of coastal resources such as ecotourism (Agardy 1993). Science-based MPA planning is underway in many countries (e.g., Osmond et al. 2010) with positive results for communities and ecosystems on which the depend (Samonte et al. 2010, Palumbi 2002).
On May 11-12, 2011, with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), IUCN and MARD’s Department of Capture Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DECAFIREF) organized a national workshop in Hoi An, Quang Nam on the role of MPAs in marine turtle conservation and their habitat protection. The workshop focused on biodiversity conservation in general and marine turtle conservation in particular. Participants from nine current and prospective MPAs participated: Co To, Bai Tu Long (Quang Ninh), Cat Ba (Hai Phong), Con Co (Quang Tri), Cu Lao Cham (Quang Nam), Nha Trang Bay (Khanh Hoa), Nui Chua (Ninh Thuan), Con Dao (Ba Ria-VungTau), and Phu Quoc (Kien Giang).
Prior to the workshop, participants completed a questionnaire to assess governance, biophysical and socioeconomic conditions, including the conservation status of marine turtles, at each MPA. The results showed that unsustainable fishing and long-term funding were among the most significant problems facing MPA managers. However, the results also showed a general increase in abundance of marine species at these sites and strong efforts to improve management. All five established MPAs have management plans and most have conducted baseline surveys and are carrying out regular monitoring. Please click HERE for the workshop report.