Ha Long Bay Eco-museum backed by Norway

With a financial backing from Norway and a technical support from UNESCO, Cua Van Floating Cultural Centre will soon be added to the attractions of UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam News reported.
     The cultural centre is the first phase of Ha Long Bay Eco-museum project, an effort to protect Vietnam’s natural wonder from environmental threats. The construction of the Cua Van Floating Cultural Centre is slated to start this year and completed by the end of 2004.
     According to Shiu-Kee Chu, head of UNESCO’s Hanoi office, the eco-museum will not be a building or a living museum, but a strategic approach to heritage management.
     “Rather than a patchwork of discrete elements managed in isolation, the Ha Long Bay Eco-museum will adopt a holistic approach to simultaneously conserving and sustainably developing the tangible and intangible heritage of the bay,” he explained.
     UNESCO reported that the floating villages of Ha Long Bay are increasingly at risk from over-fishing and pollution. With the numbers of domestic and international visitors to the bay rising exponentially, organizers hope the cultural centre will help address environmental threats and concerns.
     The museum will serve as a community cultural hub that will facilitate the participation of fishing communities in the preservation and management of resources as well as socio-economic development, said UNESCO sources.
     They added that major polluters, such as the coal industry, have indicated willingness to form strategic partnerships to ameliorate the damage caused by their activities.
     Some 570 people are estimated to live in floating fishing communities on Ha Long Bay (the largest being Cua Van), most of them descendants of generations of traditional fishermen. The fishing communities are the main suppliers of seafood to the restaurants and the markets of Bai Chay and Ha Long City, although they are also diversifying their economic base by investing in aquaculture and developing tourism services.
     The Vietnamese government made Ha Long Bay a national protection area in 1962. It was twice listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO – in 1994 for its outstanding landscape and aesthetic characteristics, and in 2000 for its scientific and geological values.

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