Every year tens of thousands of tons of coral are illegally exploited in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa, home and reserve of an abundant variety of coral species.
Corals are concentrated in three major spots of Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang Bay and Van Phong Bay in Khanh Hoa Province.
Accompanying an inspection team to rural areas such as Van Hung and Van Ninh in Xuan Dong District, one sees scenes of massive coral destruction. Communes in Xuan Dong have easy access to exploitation as there are many dense coral reefs and an easy way to transport them out.
In this village there are at least two fields that are wider than two hectares from where corals are gathered, and crudely prepared for selling.
|Coral mining has weakened the reef which serves as a natural breakwater dyke, causing severe beach erosion|
Local people here say that “corals belong to nobody” and thus they just come to cut, saw, shape the coral block as they please.
While walking towards the sea, anyone can get a chance to watch the sparkling coral reefs, undulating in the sea waves.
Now there are only holes 5-10m deep, close together, the remaining trails of large blocks of coral have been dug up and carried away.
At the sea coast, haphazard coral mining has weakened the reef which serves as a natural breakwater dyke, causing severe beach erosion, which is sweeping away houses into the sea.
According to the People's Committee of Van Hung Commune, coral mining began in the locality in 2006, became widespread in 2008, when the bonsai hobby erupted and coral was used for decorating. At one time, almost a hundred households in the commune took part in coral mining, turning the sea waters into cool turbid ponds.
A block of dead coral currently sells for VND700,000-800,000 and live coral from VND2.2 to 3 million. Many people are scrambling to exploit coral as it brings in easy money.
Tran Thi Thu, chairwoman of the People's Committee of Van Hung Commune, said that it is necessary to raise an urgent alarm on the exploitation of the local coral reefs. “In three years, local authorities made 32 arrests for violation of coral mining, but due to lack of regulations, we only stopped at administrative fines,” she added.