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Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy

ISSN: 1388-0292 (Print) 1548-1476 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uwlp20

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
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13880292.2015.1044797

Published online: 09 Jul 2015.

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Date: 05 June 2016, At: 18:39

Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 18:128138, 2015


C Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Copyright 
ISSN: 1388-0292 print / 1548-1476 online
DOI: 10.1080/13880292.2015.1044797

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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

1. INTRODUCTION
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 worlds 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 SCSs coastal states
have established the national system of the marine protected areas (MPAs).

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).
Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at
www.tandfonline.com/uwlp.

128

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However, the SCSs 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.
2. NEED OF A MPA NETWORK IN THE SCS
The Indo-West Pacific marine biogeographic province, which includes the
SCS large marine ecosystem (LME), is well recognized as a global centre of
marine shallow-water, tropical biodiversity. The SCS exceeds 7,300 islands
with offshore archipelagoes such as Paracels, and Spratlys, where there is
a unique marine environment consisting of submerged coral reefs (shoals),
atolls sometimes with emergent islets, but always with lagoons and deep parts
of the ocean that connect the scattered coral reefs via ocean currents. These
currents carry propagules from one reef site to another. The lagoons hold the
nutrients needed for biological production and serve as habitats of marine
species.3
Recent estimates suggest that approximately 2 million ha of mangrove
forest or 12 percent of the world total are located in the countries bordering
the SCS LME. Six species of marine turtles, of which all are considered either
endangered or vulnerable by the IUCN, the dugong, and several other species
2

Vu Hai Dang & Nguyen Chu Hoi, Regional Marine Environmental Protection and Regime Building in
the South China Sea: Status and Challenges, 25 INTL STUD. 7198 (2011).
3
D. G. Ochavillo, Kalayaan Island Reefs as Larval Source, in THE KALAYAAN ISLANDS: OUR NATURAL
HERITAGE (Porfirio M. Alino & Miledel Christine C. Quibilan eds., 2003).

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of marine mammal included on IUCNs Red List of Threatened Animals


occur in the SCS. Twenty percent of coral reefs of Southeast Asia are rich in
sea-grass beds of which 18 sea-grass species are recorded in and adjacent to
the coastal waters of the SCS.4 The SCS is also an important fishing ground
for the states in the region of which stocks are estimated to include 1,027
species of fishes, 91 species of shrimp, and 73 cephalopods.5 Especially, the
presence of a high biodiversity in the Spratlys is of great importance because
their propagules are expected to be carried by ocean currents to the countries
surrounding the SCS.6
According to the results of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Oceanographic
and Marine Scientific Research Expedition in the SCS (JOMSRE-SCS),7 the
fish species on the coral reefs of the Spratlys have been estimated to number
some 400 species in 45 families, including the common seven families of reef
fish containing the target (food) species. The densities of fish go as high as
3,000 individuals/500 square meters.
A review and update of the regional experts in 20148 showed that the SCS
is a home of 517 known species of reef-building corals. The species centrally
distribute in the middle part of the SCS in which the Spratly archipelago area
hosts about 333 coral species of 71 genera, and in the marine area of South
Vietnam 406 species of 75 genera, while in the Chinese Southeastern marine
area only 95 species. The number of coral species existing in the Spratlys is
about 60 percent of the species reported in the southern Philippines, which
533 species.
In comparison to the Coral Triangle with an estimated area of six times
more than the SCSs area and 566 coral species also showed that the richness
of the reef-building coral species in the SCS is also very high. Based on the
updated results, Vo Si Tuan10 suggested that the western range of the Coral
Triangle would be expanded as a Coral Sub-Triangle in the SCS, which covers
the middle part of the SCS, including Luzon (the Philippines) in the north,
South Vietnam in the west, Palawan (the Philippines) in the east, and stretching
to Brunei in the south (Fig. 1).

UN Envt Programme, The UNEP Large Marine Ecosystem Report: A Perspective on Changing Conditions in LMEs of the Worlds Regional Seas 297, UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 182 (K.
Sherman & G. Hempel eds., 2008).
5
VU HAI DANG, MARINE PROTECTED AREAS NETWORK IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: CHARTING A COURSE FOR
FUTURE COOPERATION (2014).
6
John W. McManus, The Spratly Islands: A Marine Park?, 23 AMBIO 181, 181186 (1994).
7
A. C. Alcala, Summary of the Marine Biology Results of JOMSRE-SCS I, III, and IV and Their Management Implications, in PROCEEDINGS OF CONFERENCE ON THE PHILIPPINES-VIETNAM JOINT OCEANOGRAPHIC
AND MARINE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH EXPEDITION IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA 5, 67 (2008).
8
Danwei Huang et al., Extraordinary Diversity of Reef Corals in the South China Sea, MARINE BIODIVERSITY, May 2014, at 14.
10
Id. at 315322.

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FIGURE 1. An Expanded Scheme of the Western Range of the Coral Triangle. Note: (i) The dashed
line is traditional limit and (ii) the solid line is expanded limit in the SCS (after Vo Si Tuan,
20149). Vo Si Tuan. Reproduced by permission of Vo Si Tuan. Permission to reuse must be
obtained from the rightsholder.

Most of the fishery resources in the SCS are shared stocks or highly
migratory species.11 Yearly, the marine region lands some 6 million tons of
catches, about 10 percent of the worlds total catch and 23 percent of Asias.12
In 2014, for example, only the fisheries sector in Vietnam greatly contributed
to the national economy with over 6.7 billion USD of GDP value from exports,
over half of them from marine catch fish.13
Although the SCS LME has special importance for the socioeconomic
development of its coastal states, the environment of the SCS has been under
some serious threats arising from the fast economic development and high
population growth in the region. These cause habitat loss and degradation,
unsustainable exploitation of marine living resources, and pollution of marine
environment at a very alarming rate. For example, some 4070 percent of
11

Nguyen Chu Hoi, Resolving Comprehensively 3 Issues: Fishermen, Fisheries and Aquatic Environment
Towards a Sustainable and Responsible Fisheries Sector, J. AGRIC. & RURAL DEV., no. 7, 2014, at 24.
12
DANG, supra note 5, at 20.
13
Hoi, supra note 11, at 21.

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mangroves, 5080 percent of coral reefs, and 2050 of percent sea-grass


beds have been lost and degraded due to different economic activities14 such
as coastal reclamation, destructive fishing by using poison and dynamite,
coastal aquaculture and mariculture, urbanization, sea-port development and
shipping, coastal tourism and settlement, and marine construction, especially
the change of shoal integrity in coral reef areas.
The other threats include marine and climate change impact and from
land-based sources. Under UNEP GPA support, inventory results of contaminant load from land-based sources into the Vietnam coastal environment
(2010) showed that some 3070 percent of potential pollution in the coastal
marine waters is generated from land-based impact, especially in coastal big
cities and industrial zones.15 Similarly, the coastal and marine pollution hot
spots of the SCS can found in the Malacca Strait, Manila Bay (the Philippines), and the island of Sumatra (Indonesia).16 The marine litters, most of
which are plastic materials from fishing, shipping, and other activities, become the concerned problem in the SCS. The oil spills and oil pollution level
relating to the busiest regional and international marine transportation routes
passing the SCS with daily about 200 tankers and with thousands other ships
and fishing boats is tendentiously increasing in temporal.17
The major research findings of the JOMSRE-SCS (19962007)18 also
showed the coral reefs and corals in the Spratlys are in reasonably fair to good
condition, but the fishery species (macro-invertebrates and fish) had lower
densities and biomasses in 2007 compared to those recorded in the late 1990s
and in 2005. This is most likely due to heavy fishing pressure, but fish species
richness appears stable. In atoll-reef lagoons in the Spratlys there is a lack of
large vertebrates such as mammals and turtles, and there is evidence that these
have been overexploited. The turtle skulls on beaches remind us that they were
present there before. There was also noted a lower biomass of harvestable fish
at 39 tons/square kilometer in 2007 as opposed to 114 tons/square kilometer in
1997, showing depletion in abundance and biomass of biodiversity resources
during the past 1011 years. Other marine species such as sea cucumbers and
giant clams have also been found to exist in reduced numbers. In fact, sea
cucumbers were found being dried by fishers in Jackson Atoll in 2007.19
As mentioned, the species richness of marine biodiversity of the SCS
LME generally and in the Spratlys particularly is very high, while threats to the
14

DANG, supra note 5, at 22.


Nguyen Chu Hoi, Status and Management of Marine Protected Area System in Vietnam, 28 VIETNAM
NATL U. J. SCI. 77, 7785 (2012).
16
U.N. Envt Programme, supra note 4, at 297.
17
Nguyen Chu Hoi, A Blue Economy Pertaining to the National System of Marine Protected Areas in Viet
Nam, J. SCI., TECH. & ENVT, no. 265, 2012.
18
Ochavillo, supra note 3.
19
Alcala, supra note 7.
15

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133

coastal and marine environment and biodiversity is more and more increased.
Thus the states surrounding and even outside the SCS, including Vietnam,
China, and the Philippines, should realize the importance of this fact and
should agree to conserve the biodiversity resources for the benefit of their peoples. Any activity that harms this rich biodiversity will be counterproductive
to their interests and the welfare of the world and future generations.20 In sum,
there is a need for immediate protection and management of the marine biodiversity of the SCS including the Spratlys through a MPA network in the region.

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3. EFFORTS IN THE ESTABLISHMENT AND MANAGEMENT


OF MPAS IN THE SCS
The SCS has a high marine conservation potential, and in fact, the SCSs
states have established a national system of the marine protected areas (MPAs)
that provides important benefits for national marine economics development
and environmental protection. However, according to the statistics from the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), no state bordering the SCS had
more than 5 percent of its territorial waters protected in 2010. The coverage
rate of MPAs in the SCS and the gulf of Thailand was very limited: 0.31 percent
and 0.8 percent, respectively.21 The area of coral reefs in the 83 target coral reef
sites is 217,407 ha (29 percent of the total area in the SCS), of which 100,243 ha
(13 percent of the total area) is under management at the present time. In terms
of management effectiveness only, around 5 percent of this area is considered
to be under successful management. For 29 percent of the sites, management
effectiveness is considered low, while around 13 percent is not under any form
of management.22 In addition, management types are quite diverse and different
among the countries in the region (not only MPA); coral reef management is
practiced by different sectors even in one country, and there has been weak
coordination among sectors, e.g., fisheries and environment management. The
national system of MPAs planned and approved by Vietnams government in
2010 includes 16 MPA sites, which is representative for marine areas of the
country and covers about 0.27 percent of the Vietnamese Exclusive Economic
Zones (EEZs) area.23 In the total number of 1,097 established MPAs in the
Philippines, including coastal protected areas, there are 107 MPAs in the SCS
region.24
20

Id.
DANG, supra note 5.
22
Si Vo Tuan, Development of a Coral Reef Management Strategy within the Framework of the UNEP/GEF
South China Sea Project, 15 GALAXEA J. CORAL REEF STUD. 9, 11 (2013).
23
Hoi, supra note 15, at 7785.
24
MARINE ENVT & RES. FOUND., INC. & CONSERVATION INTL PHIL., INITIAL RESULTS OF THE MARINE PROTECTED
AREAS GAP ANALYSIS FOR THE PHILIPPINES (2009) [hereinafter INITIAL RESULTS].
21

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In 1995, some 90 percent of MPAs in EAS (a broader marine region including the SCS) had failed or only partially achieved their management
objectives. In 2010, the gap analysis of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity
(ACB)25 showed that among 152 coastal and marine key biodiversity areas
identified of ASEAN states (partly the SCS), only 35 are protected; 20 are
partly protected, and the rest are not protected at all. In Vietnam, only five
among 16 established MPAs have been managed,26 and in the Philippines only
541 among 1,097 established MPAs had geographical coordinate information,
while the rest of the MPAs did not have coordinates.27 Regarding the marine
biodiversity conservation in the SCS, there were some early initiatives, one of
which is the proposal of McManus JW (2004)28 to establish an international
marine park in the Spratlys in the middle SCS. The JOMSRE-SCSs report
reminds of the need for MPAs in the Spratlys29even the experts have recommended that the Philippines and Vietnam should work for the establishment
of trans-border peace parks or MPAs in the Spratlys, with 30 percent of the
total area declared as no-take zones to allow buildup of biological resources
and ultimately to export marine propagules. Initially, protective management
should begin at the North Danger Reef and Jackson Atoll, as soon as possible, as marine resources show signs of diminishing, some of them rather
rapidly. The two countries should utilize the countrys experts on MPAs to
monitor and study the progress of the peace parks and to report periodically
on the progress of protection effort for dissemination to other countries of the
world.30
In the planning process of national system of the MPAs, an ecosystembased marine spatial planning (MSP) approach has been applied,31 and among
total 16 established MPAs, there is one MPA site situated in the Spratlys (called
Namyet Island MPA).32 A key output of the UNEP/GEF SCS project was
the Strategic Action Programme (SAP), including the National Action Plans
(NAP). Nevertheless, the South China Sea regional SAP and NAPs developed
under this project must be used as a starting point for the development of a
consensus and actions in the SCS and over a wider geographic region.33 The
comprehensive initiative pertained to the MPA network and legal aspects of
sustainable development in the SCS can be found in the book of Vu Hai Dang
25

Id.
Hoi, supra note 15.
27
INITIAL RESULTS, supra note 24.
28
McManus, supra note 6, at 181186.
29
INST. OF OCEANOGRAPHY, BIODIVERSITY IN SPRADLY FROM THE JOMSRE-SCS: AN INTERIM BRIEF OF THE
JOMSRE-SCS RESULTS (2007) (on file with Inst. of Oceanography, Hoa Province, Vietnam).
30
Alcala, supra note 7.
31
Nyguyen Chu Hoi, Application of Spatial Planning in Establishing a System of Marine Protected Areas
for Sustainable Fisheries Management in Vietnam, 56 J. MAR. BIOL. ASSOC. INDIA 28, 2833 (2014).
32
Hoi, supra note 15, at 7785.
33
Tuan, supra note 22, at 14.
26

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(2014) on Marine Protected Areas Network in the SCS: Charting a Course


for Future Cooperation. This book suggests legal and political measures to
support the development of a network of MPAs in the SCS.34
Although having a number of the efforts to promote regional initiative
of the peaceful marine park or MPA network in the SCS, the SCS states still
face many challenges for the development of a MPA network and regional
regime in managing it. The main challenges are following:

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Lack of a supportive legal and political framework;


Lack of an effective system of compliance and enforcement;
Uninvolvement of all relevant stakeholders;
Do still not use of the best available knowledge;
Lack of a sustainable financing mechanism for maintaining the MPA
network;
Lack of a social network of MPAs;
Diversity of the SCS states which are very different in many aspects;
Possible strong resistance from existing users of the seas.
Despite having such situation, the MPA is still considered an effective
tool to conserve the coastal and marine biodiversity and other resources, as
well as the marine environment, to create restoration inside the MPA site
and spillover effects for outers.3536 Except that in the context of the SCS,
the effective management of a national MPA system and regional network
of MPAs will also contribute to mitigating the tension between the coastal
states of the region towards peaceful and prosperous marine waters in the
long term. It means that the SCS states would need to make much greater
efforts to establish and effectively manage a MPA network to get close to the
Convention of Biological Diversitys (CBD) 2020 target and beyond.
In the SCS, China, Chinese Taipei, and Vietnam have sovereignty claims
to the Paracel archipelago. There are also sovereignty claims and disputes between China, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei
for the whole or part of the Spratly archipelago. Furthermore, Chinas and
Chinese Taipeis claims within the U-shaped nine dashed lines in the SCS
overlap to varying degrees with claims to EEZ and continental shelf areas
made by Vietnam to the east of the Vietnamese coast, made by Indonesia to
the northeast of the Natuna islands, made by Malaysia to the north of the coast
of the state of Sarawak and to the northwest of the state of Sabah, made by
Brunei Darussalam to the north of its coast, and made by the Philippines to
the west of the Filipino archipelago.37

34

DANG, supra note 5.


Hoi, supra note 15.
36
DANG, supra note 5.
35

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Obviously, the existing sovereignty claims and maritime boundary disputes in the SCS is very complicated, while coastal states have not been able
to develop effectively regional cooperation. The complex nature of these disputes is exacerbated by important security and economic interests at stake
in the region. These disputes pose a major threat to stability, peace, and cooperation in the region. Though initiatives towards a legal resolution have
been undertaken, these disputes will not likely be resolved in the near future
because of their complexity. In this context, MPAs and a regional network
of MPAs offer a political opportunity to maintain a peaceful, cooperative,
and stable environment. And the MPA is considered a mechanism to promote
cooperation and peace in the SCS. The development of a regional network of
MPAs in the SCS with a peaceful marine park is to help decrease the tension
and to enhance cooperation between disputing claimants.38
Unlike cooperation of oil and gas exploitation, cooperation in the development of a regional network of MPAs to protect marine resources and the
environment does not require any type of commercial extraction and sharing
of marine resources.39 It even maintains and adds natural assets for blue economy development.40 Therefore, cooperation to protect marine resources and
environment in a disputed area might be accepted by relevant claimants (from
a political viewpoint) more easily than other marine cooperative activities
(because the marine resources and environment are transboundary issues).
4. REGIONAL REGIME FOR THE MPA NETWORK IN THE SCS
Based on the concept of international and regional regimes defined by Stephen
D. Krasner (1983),41 the authors have analyzed some of the most important
regional arrangements and mechanisms relevant to the marine environmental
protection and biodiversity conservation of the SCS. The arrangements include
Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the SCS, the Declaration on
the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC), the GEF/UNEP project Reversing
the Environmental Degradation Trend in the SCS and Gulf of Thailand, and
the JOMSRE-SCS. There are other mechanisms under the broader regional
framework of marine environmental protection in East Asia Seas such as
PEMSEA and COBSEA, as well as under the ASEAN framework such as
ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME).4243
37

RAMSES AMER, DISPUTE MANAGEMENT IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA, NISCSS REPORT NO. 1 (2015), available
at http://en.nanhai.org.cn/uploads/file/file/20150302 Ramses.pdf.
38
DANG, supra note 5.
39
Id.
40
Hoi, supra note 17.
41
INTERNATIONAL REGIMES (Stephen D. Krasner ed., 1983).
42
Dang & Hoi, supra note 2, at 7178.

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The analyzed results showed that the results of the process of regime
building in the environmental protection in the SCS are rather disappointing;
despite some initiatives, no legally binding treaty has been able to be adopted
in the SCS in this field, and all existing mechanisms still have a long way
to go. This backwardness of the region can be explained by many reasons,
such as complex marine disputes, lack of marine environmental awareness of
the coastal states, the reluctance regarding regionalism and multilateralism,
the limited influence from scientific experts, and the traditional preference
for soft law instruments and informality in multilateral regime building of
the SCS. Thus, for the process of regime building for the management of the
MPA network in the SCS to move on, the coastal states need to overcome the
above-mentioned challenges.4445
The JOMSRE-SCS can be considered a practical lesson in bilateral
relationships and increase confidence between Vietnam and the Philippines
(Press release of Philippines Ministry of Foreign Affairs No. 35903 dated 17
July 2003). Therefore, the JOMSRE-SCS has received strong support from
the leaders of both countries (Statement of the Prime Minister of Vietnam in
visiting the Philippines of 10 August 2007). Scientifically, the JOMSRE-SCS
cruises also provided the scientific baselines for reasonable use, marine living
resources and environmental protection, and marine biodiversity conservation
in the region and contribute to marine security and peace in the SCS. Thus the
JOMSRE-SCS has been discussed with China about a negotiation mechanism
to expand the cruises in Chinas participation. Through three negotiation
meetings, three countries have agreed about purposes, scientific activities and
surveyed staff composition, surveyed data/information, and specimen sharing,
but they withdrew the cruise transect and area and vessel kind. After 2009,
the negotiation meeting has not been implemented until now.46
To develop a MPA regional network in the SCS, the step-by-step approach needs to be applied. Discussing this issue, Vu Ha Dang (2014) has
analyzed and proposed six criteria for a network of MPAs in the SCS, including transboundary MPAs and a national MPA system of the coastal states. He
has also identified the steps and key factors for the development of a network
of MPAs.47 Based on the selections, he proposed to form a Regional Forum
for MPAs Experts in the SCS, then adopting a Regional Framework Agreement for MPAs Network, creating an inventory natural site of conservation
interests, formulating a list of MPAs in the SCS importance, establishing a re-

43

Vu Hai Dang & Nguyen Chu Hoi, Regional Marine Environmental Protection and Regime Building in
the SCS, 89 INTL STUD. NO. 2, June 2012, at 179194.
44
Dang & Hoi, supra note 2, at 7178.
45
Dang & Hoi, supra note 43.
46
INST. OF OCEANOGRAPHY, supra note 29.
47
DANG, supra note 5.

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gional monitoring program for MPAs, and establishing a specialized regional


compliance mechanism.
The building of a regional regime for MPAs in the SCS has to focus on
national and regional actionsat the national level, encouraging to review
the national MPAs in consideration of regional conservation targets and, at
the same time, improving regional cooperation through establishing a transboundary MPA to conserve marine biodiversity in the region, implementing
the SCS fisheries refuge project, designating sites of importance for migratory
species in the SCS, designating the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA)
in the SCS, joint research on un-sensitive environmental issues in the SCS,
and continuing implementation of the phase II of the GEF/UNEP project
Reversing the Environmental Degradation Trend in the SCS and Gulf of
Thailand.
5. RECOMMENDATIONS
In the above-mentioned context of the SCS, building a MPA regional network
and management regime should be implemented step by step and using an
ecosystem-based approach. Building a regional regime for MPA network
management will contribute to implementing article 6 of the DOC48 and is
considered one of the peaceful measures for the SCS region.
The first priority is to create a regional forum for sharing information
of national MPA management between the SCS states. This requires political
support from the SCS governments and commitments from stakeholders,
including the communities in the region. The second priority is to establish
a transboundary MPA in the SCS and the SCS Body for Coordinating MPAs
and developing a sustainable financing mechanism to maintain the activities
relating to the MPA network.

48

ASEAN-China, Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, ASSN OF SE. ASIAN NATIONS, http://www.asean.org/asean/external-relations/china/item/declaration-on-the-conduct-of-partiesin-the-south-china-sea (last visited 13 April 2015).