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Hoi An city is located in the Vu Gia –Thu Bon estuary, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. As a result, Hoi An’s economy is based on its natural resources and tourism, both of which are severely impacted by natural disasters and climate change. The most significant hazards, shocks, and stresses the city faces are: floods, typhoons, saline intrusion, coastal/riverbank erosion, and environmental and natural resource degradation. Hoi An’s work around the marine protected area, as well as the biosphere reserve concept have laid the foundation for Hoi An’s resilience-building work.

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Figure 1: The Thu Bon river in Quang Nam province. Hoi An city is located in the downstream of this river (Photo: Bui Kien Quoc)

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Figure 2: The Thu Bon river estuary (Photo: Bui Kien Quoc)


Figure 3: The Hoi An Old Town

The Cham Islands Marine Protected Area was formed for marine resources biodiversity conservation and local livelihood improvement. There are about 2,500 people living in the Cu Lao Cham, mainly on the Hon Lao, also known as Hon Cu Lao Cham. More than 80% of the population are reliant upon fishing and depend on the sea’s rich resources. Resources are abundant and include coral, fish, lobster, squid, abalone and sea cucumber. According to recent research conducted by the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, Cu Lao Cham has 277 coral species, 270 reef fish species, 76 seaweed species, 5 sea grass species, 4 lobster species, 97 mollusks, and 11 species of echinoderms. Besides the beautiful scenery, Cu Lao Cham has an abundance of local knowledge sources, archaeological heritage, abundant forest resources and medicinal plant resources.

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Figure 4: The Cham Islands (Photo: Chu Manh Trinh)

Cham Islands MPA was established under the decision No. 88/2005/QD-UBND of Provincial People’s Committee of Quang Nam on 20 December 2005. Objective of Cham Islands MPA is to conserve marine biodiversity, protect and exploit ecosystems sustainably, preserve natural resources and cultural heritage. The MPA operates near the islands on the mainland in Tan Hiep Commune, Hoi An, Quang Nam. Cham Island MPA is an outcome of Cham Island MPA Project, which was established and operated under an agreement between Government of Vietnam and Government of Denmark, which supported the establishment of a MPA in Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quang Nam.


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Figure 5: The Cham Islands Marine Protected Area.

The project period was from October 2003 to September 2006. The long-term objectives of the project, include, strategies (i) to protect natural resources and cultural and historical values of Cu Lao Cham archipelago, and (ii) to use sustainable natural resources and cultural and historical values of Cu Lao Cham to stimulate socio-economic development. In 2009, Hoi An was recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve, because the city’s unique relationship with the estuary, and its reliance on local mangrove, sea grass, and coral reef habitats. Historically, people live in harmony with the nature and culture and implement sustainable livelihood practices.

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Figure 6: Influence of sediments from the main land on Cham MPA

This paper aims to describe how Hoi An came to support the Cham Islands MPA, what the benefits have been, challenges local people will face, as well as lessons learned from past experiences, including a) zoning plan development; b) establishment of regulatory mechanism; c) co-management model for environmental and natural resource conservation and sustainable use in Quang Nam province; d) community-based livelihood development and impact assessment; e) MPA management plan development; f) patrolling and enforcement program; g) community based ecotourism homestay program; h) community participation in recovery and sustainable of Cu Lao Cham landcrabs; and i) how the Marine Protected Area helps mitigating Climate Change and/or reducing disasters risk.

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Figure 7: Trend in number of tourists in years

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Figure 8: Trend in fish catch in years

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Figure 9: Trend in landcrabs harvested versus permitted catch limit

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Figure 10: Local participants determining if the landcrab carapace meets regulation. An ecological label will be pasted on all qualified landcrabs.

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Figure 11: Landcrabs that have been harvested and gone through labeling process that are ready for sale.

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Figure 12: Hoi An annotated map The whole paper is attached here

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Chu Manh Trinh – The Cham Islands Marine Protected Area