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Artificial Island Building in the South China Sea, Joint Development, Marine Environment issues

Building a Regional Network and Management Regime of Marine Protected Areas in the South China Sea for Sustainable Development

Nguyen Chu Hoi & Vu Hai Dang

To cite this article: Nguyen Chu Hoi & Vu Hai Dang (2015) Building a Regional Network and Management Regime of Marine Protected Areas in the South China Sea for Sustainable Development, Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 18:2, 128-138, DOI: 10.1080/13880292.2015.1044797


The South China Sea (SCS) or Bien Dong Sea (in Vietnamese) is considered one of largest semi-enclosed seas in the world, with an estimated area of about 3,500.000 km2. The SCS is rich in biodiversity and has a high marine conservation potential that supports rich fishery ground for fish and other marine products.[1] The SCS is surrounded by nine nations (China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and one territory of Taiwan) with about 300 million people (in 2000) whose livelihoods depend on the marine waters.

The SCS is a fast developing area with one of the world’s most dynamic economies over the last decades and main exploitations such as fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas, marine transportation, and tourism. However, almost all the coastal states are also facing the complicated sovereignty claims and maritime boundary disputes in the SCS.

To provide important benefits for national marine economic development and environmental protection, almost all of the SCS’s coastal states have established the national system of the marine protected areas (MPAs). However, the SCS’s environment and living resources are continuously degrading at an alarming rate due to both natural and human impacts, including those from climate change. Besides, the region also lacks an effective regional regime for marine environmental and MPA management cooperation between coastal states. In comparison with many other regions in the world, the process of regime building for the protection of the marine environment in the SCS has been quite limited.[2]

Therefore, to address these problems, a MPA network with an effective regional management regime should be developed in the SCS for protecting all biodiversity types, for maintaining the unique, endemic, rare, and endangered species, and for essential ecological connectivity. The MPA network is considered a way of implementing the ecosystem-based approach in the marine region, too. Apart from this, the MPA network with effective regional management regime will not only help in protecting the marine living resources and environment but also will contribute to mitigating the tension between the coastal states towards development of a healthy and peaceful SCS.

This article synthesizes the needs of the MPA network development and the efforts in building the regional regime for MPA management in the SCS. Based on the reviewed results, the authors provide some recommendations for improving the regional cooperation on successful management of the MPA network in the SCS.

Download the paper at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13880292.2015.1044797



*Nguyen Chu Hoi, Associate Professor at Vietnam National University. E-mail: nchoi52@gmail.com; and Dr. Vu Hai Dang, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any government.

[1] Adonis S. Floren, Distribution Patterns of Ichthyoplankton in the South China Sea and Part of the Sulu Sea, in Proceedings of Conference on the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Oceanographic and Marine Scientific Research Expedition in the South China Sea 101 (2008).

[2] Vu Hai Dang & Nguyen Chu Hoi, Regional Marine Environmental Protection and Regime Building in the South China Sea: Status and Challenges, 25 Int’l Stud. 71–98 (2011).



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