Closure of a Mecca for scuba diving in Vietnam to protect the coral

Closure of a hotspot for scuba diving in Vietnam to protect coral

Vietnam has closed a tourist island in the center of the country popular with divers in an attempt to revive the badly damaged coral reef in places, officials announced on Monday.

The nation enjoys 320 km of coastline with crystal clear waters, rich marine flora and fauna and sandy beaches.

Recent photographs taken off Hon Mun Island, a scuba diving site near Nha Trang due to its diverse ecosystem, showed bleached and damaged corals.

Coral reefs across Southeast Asia have been hit hard by global warming, with scientists warning their degradation could have devastating economic and environmental repercussions.

“The Nha Trang Bay Management Authority has decided to halt swimming and scuba diving activities in areas around Hon Mun Island.

—Vietnamese authorities

In a statement, they said the ban was intended to assess the condition of the sensitive area in order to develop a proper plan to save the corals.

According to state media, approximately 60% of the area's coastal bottom was covered in live coral in 2020. That figure has dropped to less than 50% today.

Powerful storms in 2019 and 2021 may have damaged corals, authorities say, but illegal fishing, dredging, littering and construction activities are also blamed.

According to state media, around 60% of the coastal bottom in the area off Hon Mun Island was covered in live coral in 2020. This figure has dropped to less than 50% today.

Divers expressed anger over the decision.

Swimming and diving activities had the least influence on reefs corals, compared to other activities, diver Nguyen Son from Ho Chi Minh City told AFP.

With no sense of responsibility, fishing boats are arrived and destroyed the seabed, diver Trinh Ngoc Sang told AFP, for whom rebuilding the corals will take decades.

At the #x27;Globally, corals are home to around 25% of marine biodiversity.

Vietnam's decision follows a similar measure taken in Thailand, which restricted for many months access to the famous Maya Bay beach, immortalized in the movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, to give the local ecosystem a chance to recover.

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