Tourist vessels in Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province. More measures should be adopted to improve the environment of the bay (Source: VNA)
Quang Ninh (VNA) – Local authorities, enterprises and communities in northern Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city must strengthen cooperation to protect the environment in Ha Long Bay, a conference heard on July 10.

This is especially important for the development of sustainable fish farming cages on Cat Ba Island.

The conference, which was held for the third time by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, aimed to help leaders of Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island, two popular tourist destinations, to discuss the impact of waste being discharged by nearly 500 tourist vessels and more than 530 floating fish farming sites in these two areas.

Ho Quang Huy, Deputy Chairman of the Ha Long city’s People’s Committee, said the management of waste being discharged in the bay faced difficulties because of low awareness of environmental protection among some vessel owners. In addition, the bay is adjacent to Cat Ba Island, where many floating restaurants and fish farming cages are located, and they also discharge waste. As a result, large volumes of waste would wash into the bay at high tide, seriously affecting the environment, he added.

To resolve the problem and protect the marine ecosystem, both sites must work together.

Nguyen Van Tuan, Deputy Director of the Management Board of Cat Ba Island, agreed, saying there were 486 fish farming sites on the island, with more than 8,600 cages, affecting the ecological environment and polluting the seawater, causing a decline in the coral reefs. Tuan said the major hurdle was that the island had not attracted businesses that invest in wastewater and waste treatment, such as by expanding or building waste collection sites.

He said the number of ships would rise over the next few years, so a better plan for waste treatment was necessary, or the current waste treatment sites would soon be overloaded.

Leaders of both areas agreed that the two sites must work together to chalk out effective measures, such as applying fees to enterprises and local residents using nylon bags and reducing and gradually curbing the use of foam instead of composite materials at floating restaurants, as foam would quickly decompose, polluting the seawater.

The US-funded Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance was established in 2014 to build partnerships between the government, businesses and rural societies to improve environmental management of the bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh and the Cat Ba Archipelago, which is part of the port city of Hai Phong.-VNA