The establishment of Con Co Island Marine Reserve is a basis for central Quang Tri province to manage its marine resources and environment in a collective, unified and effective way.

A marine reserve does not only help guarantee the ecological balance of the sea, protect biodiversity, make the environment equable and ensure aquatic breed resources, but it plays an important role in long-term economic development, scientific research, education and marine tourism.

Apart from those benefits, the Con Co reserve provides administrative and legal tools in the struggle for national sea and island sovereignty and security in Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone.

Con Co Island Marine Reserve was established under Quang Tri provincial People’s Committee Decision No. 2090 dated October 14, 2009 , and became operational on April 21, 2010 .

It aims to improve local residents’ awareness of biodiversity, marine resources, as well as the management, protection and sustainable development of those resources.

The reserve covers 4,532 hectares, including three subregions - namely a 534 ha protected subregion, a 1,392 ha subregion for ecological recovery and a 2,376 ha subregion for development.

In terms of biodiversity, the reserve now boasts 113 coral species, 57 species of seaweed and seagrass, 67 zoobenthos species, 19 crustacean species, 224 species of saltwater fish, 87 species of coral reef fish, 164 phytoplankton species and 68 species and groups of zooplankton. Of which, numerous species are rare and have high economic value such as lobster, sea cucumbers, Asian green mussels, mackerel, squid and sea whips.

Total reserves of aquatic resources in Con Co’s waters are estimated at 40,000 tonnes with a sustainable exploitation output of 12,000 tonnes per year.

Coral reef is of crucial importance to the site’s biodiversity. Thus, protecting the reef is vital for sustainable development. Con Co’s coral reef is assessed as being in good condition, but overfishing and pollution have had their toll.

Therefore, the reserve management board has installed a float system to delimit regions and coordinated with the Aquatic Resources Exploitation and Protection Sub-department and the border guard post on the island to conduct patrols within and around the area.

A group of volunteers that includes local residents was also set up to help popularisation and supervision work, timely discovering activities that have negative impacts on the reserve.

In addition, the board has worked with schools in coastal communes to launch beach clean-up activities and an environment and marine biodiversity protection contest which involved more than 2,000 students.

These activities aim to improve the community’s awareness, particularly students, of protecting the environment and marine biodiversity as well as the reserve’s goals and benefits it will create.

They are also set to influence households and the local community, improving behaviours towards the environment and marine resources.-VNA