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Illegal constructions spring up in Phu Quoc’s protected maritime areas

Illegal constructions spring up in Phu Quoc’s protected maritime areas

Friday, August 12, 2022, 15:06 GMT+7
Illegal constructions spring up in Phu Quoc’s protected maritime areas
Over-water bungalows illegally built in a protected maritime area on Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam. Photo: S.Lam / Tuoi Tre

Multiple illegal constructions sites been identified within protected marine areas managed by a national park on Phu Quoc, a popular tourist island off southern Vietnam, though the park management board said they are not authorized to deal with the issue.

Within one of the protected maritime areas in Phu Quoc’s Ham Ninh Commune is Cay Sao floating restaurant. 

Unlike other floating restaurants that are built on buoys and rafts, Cay Sao was built on concrete pillars firmly planted into the ground below the water. 

The restaurant is connected to the shore by a wooden boardwalk. 

Next to the restaurant sits a row of bungalows also constructed on concrete pillars. 

A similar grouping of bungalows could be spotted about 300 meters further down the coast.

“We are sitting in a protected marine area where lots of sea turtles used to visit,” a local friend told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters. 

“How can nature be preserved with these bungalows?”

Similar situations seem rampant in protected maritime areas across the island. 

On Phu Quoc’s off southern coast, for example, sits Roi Islet, where a barge registered to Ngoc Trai Ngoc Hien Phu Quoc Company continuously pumps sand into the water to build a new tourist site.

“They are forming an area for ocean-related leisure activities,” a local explained.

A bridge is being illegally built on May Rut Trong Islet off Phu Quoc Island. Photo: T.Trinh / Tuoi Tre

A bridge is being illegally built on May Rut Trong Islet off Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam. Photo: T.Trinh / Tuoi Tre

Ho Phi Thuy, director of Ngoc Trai Ngoc Hien Phu Quoc Company, admitted to building up the seabed near Roi Islet without asking for permission from local authorities.

The firm planned to create a nearly 2,000-square-meter area where tourists can take part in water activities.

Such constructions are commonplace on the islets surrounding Phu Quoc.

On May Rut Trong Islet, a 500-meter pedestrian bridge is being built. Attached to the bridge is a 100-meter ramp meant to lead visitors directly into the sea.

“The coral reef surrounding May Rut Trong Islet is definitely affected by these constructions,” a boat driver said.

Unauthorized to handle the problem 

Nguyen Van Tiep, director of Phu Quoc National Park, confirmed that much of the construction taking place in these protected maritime zones is illegal.

"We have sent an official dispatch to police officers and local authorities to ask for their assistance because we do not have the authority to handle these cases," Tiep said. 

A bird’s-eye view of an illegal pedestrian bridge on May Rut Trong Islet off Phu Quoc Island. Photo: S.L. / Tuoi Tre

A bird’s-eye view of an illegal pedestrian bridge on May Rut Trong Islet off Phu Quoc Island, southern Vietnam. Photo: S.L. / Tuoi Tre

The park management board has identified dozens of such cases, some of which encroach on several hectares of protected space.

The park is not authorized to impose penalties for these encroachments, Tiep stated, adding that the boundary of the park is not clearly marked.

The Phu Quoc National Park covers an area of more than 40,000 hectares, but it employs only a small number of workers.

“We often coordinate with the local border guard unit and other authorities to patrol the protected areas, but preventing encroachment remains a challenge,” the director explained.

Huynh Quang Hung, chairman of the Phu Quoc People’s Committee, said that the administration will work with the national park to deal with violations of the protected maritime areas.

“We have penalized and will continue to penalize violators, and we will require them to dismantle their illegal constructions and return the encroached areas to their original conditions,” Hung stressed.

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