Swallowed by the sea

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 A rest stop that will soon be submerged by the sea in Ca Mau Province

As sea levels rise the world over, Vietnam's own Amazon is threatened by severe erosion and submersion.

Ca Mau Cape in the southernmost province of Ca Mau is blessed with a unique submerged ecosystem said to resemble the estuaries of the Amazon River in South America.

The cape's biosphere reserve, an area of 371,506 hectares at Vietnam's southernmost tip, was granted world heritage status by UNESCO in 2009.

In recent years, erosion has increased alarmingly in the cape. "If we compare Ca Mau Cape's map now to 10 years ago, we see a lot of changes," an official of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development told Thanh Nien.

Since the cape was declared an ecological tourism area in 2001, provincial authorities began building dikes in the area. However, the wood and concrete barriers are no match for fierce erosion; sea water continually eats away the embankments leaving skinny stakes standing alone in the sea. Some 10 meters off the shore, a line of concrete stakes stand in a feeble challenge to the seas.

While taking this Thanh Nien reporter to the farthest points on Ca Mau Cape, tour guide Duong Van Thang pointed to remnants of a road and rest stops for tourists going from east to west on Ca Mau Cape.

The tour guide said authorities built another road last year in preparation for Ca Mau Cape Tourism Week, but it was eroded by the sea three months ago.

"We belong to the sea, after all," he said.

Ta Huynh Vinh Truong, director of Ca Mau Cape Cultural Park, said tides have risen dramatically in the last two years, speeding the rate of erosion.

Tien however, blamed humans.

Tien said sand mining for the construction of resorts and destruction of seaside mangrove forests which protect land against erosion, are the main reasons for the disaster. He also said the dikes built by authorities were not strong enough to fight the waves.

Initial solutions

On Tuesday (April 12), Duong Huynh Khai, director of the Ca Mau Province Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the provincial government has asked them to survey a pilot embankment being built in Ca Mau's U Minh District.

The project has implemented solutions like reducing wave pressure, pumping mud and planting mangrove trees to prevent erosion.

If successful, the project will be implemented in Ca Mau Cape and other parts of the southernmost coastal province.

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