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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Study on coral reef resilience in comparative areas in south Vietnam for marine biodiversity conservation in a changing world

PI: Tuan Si Vo (, Institute of Oceanography
U.S. Partner: Mark Eakin, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview

This project is aimed at understanding coral reef resilience capacity in comparative areas in southern Vietnam under changing stresses (increased temperature and human activities) and developing guidelines for biodiversity conservation and resources management. To achieve these goals, the researchers will assess coral bleaching in 2016 in three representative reef areas (Nha Trang Ninh Thuan coastal waters as an example of an upwelling area, Con Dao islands in the western South China Sea, and Phu Quoc islands in the coastal Gulf of Thailand). They will also conduct studies on biological and physical features associated with coral reef resilience at the site level of each area in order to develop recommendations on possible changes in zoning and adaptive management of marine protected areas (MPAs). Studies will also be carried out on settlement and recruitment of corals and inter-population connectivity of target reef organisms among the three areas. Near the end of the project, the team will develop guidelines for the conservation of marine biodiversity in southern Vietnam to promote resilience to sea temperature changes and human activities. The U.S. partner and his colleagues will provide their experience and data, especially in nowcasting and forecasting of sea temperatures in relation to coral bleaching and other phenomena. NOAA methodology on coral reef resilience will be critical in order to ensure that data on the project are aligned with international standards.

The project will facilitate improvement of zoning and adaptive management of several protected areas, including Nha Trang Bay MPA, Nui Chua and Con Dao National Parks, and Phu Quoc MPA. The approach to be taken will involve MPA managers and local communities in implementing the project, thus helping to disseminate scientific knowledge to local officials and practitioners. The project will also contribute to the existing efforts of the Nha Trang Bay and Phu Quoc MPAs in involving the tourism sector in managing and rehabilitating corals reefs for ecotourism purposes. At the large scale, the comparative studies to be carried out on this project will also provide data on resilience among various types of reef areas, considering the connectivity of reef communities among upwelling waters and other factors.

5-618 Coral Storm Damage 5-618 Nui Chua National Park
Significant coral damage witnessed following a major storm (images courtesy of Dr. Vo).Attendees from the December 18, 2017 consultation workshop at Nui Chua National Park.

Summary of Recent Activities

With the project now midway through its second year, Dr. Vo and his colleagues have nearly completed their reassessment of coral bleaching and biological and physical features related to coral reef resilience following the bleaching events in 2016. They have finished work at 10 of 10 sites off Phu Quoc (May 2018), 10 of 10 off Con Dao (June 2018) and 7 of 10 off Nha Trang (June 2018). Due to bad weather, the survey off Ninh Thuan and the remaining sites off Nha Trang will be conducted in late July and early August 2018. In general, the team found water temperatures to be quite high in most of the survey sites in all three areas where they worked during the second quarter. Although survey data are still being processed, coral bleaching has begun to be recorded at several survey sites off Phu Quoc, Con Dao, and Nha Trang but is not as serious as in 2016. Coral bleaching will continue to be monitored in the event that water temperatures remain high in the near future. Besides completing the survey work off Ninh Thuan and the rest of Nha Trang, the group will also hold a workshop on coastal impacts on coral reefs in Con Dao in August 2018.

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