Businesses urged to protect Ha Long Bay hinh anh 1Cruise ships in Ha Long Bay (Photo: VNA)

Quang Ninh (VNA)
– Businesses were urged to increase their involvement in addressing environmental challenges caused by the operation of cruise ships in Ha Long Bay during the fifth leadership committee meeting of Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance in northern Quang Ninh province on March 13.

The meeting, organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), included discussions about the extension of Ha Long Bay to include Cat Ba Archipelago in the northern port city of Hai Phong.

Nearly 90 representatives from UNESCO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, officials from Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city, as well as from USAID, non-governmental organisations and businesses, attended the event.

Director of the Environment and Social Development Office of the USAID Christopher Abrams said USAID continued providing financial support for IUCN in 2017 to encourage businesses to preserve and protect the heritage site.

Businesses discussed measures to promote private investment in improving wastewater treatment for more than 500 cruise vessels operating in Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba archipelago.

A report on the alliance’s initiatives to develop a wastewater treatment system was presented at the meeting, based on the results of interviews and research with large cruise companies in Ha Long on the need for a wastewater system in Tuan Chau Port and the feasibility of applying the environmentally-friendly Green Lotus label on cruise boats.

Research from IUCN showed that about 502 cubic metres of wastewater was daily discharged from cruise boats in Ha Long Bay. This wastewater was estimated to originate from different sources, including about 250 litres from each tourist staying overnight on a boat.

The meeting also heard solutions to solve wastewater management issues in the bay, including the diversification of financial support and promotion of policy making dialogue.

At the meeting, the Cat Ba Heritage Management Commission provided an update on the Ha Long Bay’s latest nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Site to include Cat Ba Archipelago and plans for management of the expanded world heritage site between Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh province.

At the request of Vice Chairman of the Ha Long City’s People’s Committee Ho Quang Huy, the IUCN and UNESCO will organise an advisory mission of specialists from the two organisations to help address the site’s development challenges.

With USAID support, the Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance was established in 2014 as a partnership between Government, business and community leaders to encourage action to preserve and protect Hạ Long Bay and Cat Ba archipelago.-VNA