Mangrove Protection (MANGROVE)

          CASE NUMBER:          45 
          CASE NAME:          Mangrove Protection

1.        The Issue
     Japan and Vietnam are among eleven Asian signatories to the
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance as Waterfowl
Habitat ("Ramsar").  Mangroves are being destroyed in many places
for a variety of reasons, including shrimp farming.  This is
happening in Vietnam and Japan is Vietnam's primary market for
exported prawns.  The farming of prawns increasingly relies on the
method of flooding brackish water areas for ponds.  The
construction of these ponds is detrimental to the health of the
wetland ecosystem, and in particular detrimental to the viability
of mangrove swamps.  The prawn farms are at the expense of costal
mangroves, which are an integral part of the wetland eco-system. 
The Ramsar Convention is one vehicle for mangrove protection that
may conflict with shrimp farming operations.
2.        Description
     For membership in Ramsar, countries must register at least one
wetland for preservation.  Although eleven Asian nations are
members, several with extensive wetlands such as Malaysia, the
Philippines, and Thailand, are not.  According to the Ramsar
Convention Bureau, threats facing Asia's diverse wetlands include
drainage and reclamation for industrial and urban expansion,
conversion to salt ponds, pollution, river diversion, and logging.
     The purpose of Ramsar, signed February 2, 1971, and effective
December 21, 1975, is to conserve global wetlands, particularly in
recognition of the significance of wetlands as a habitat for
migratory waterfowl and in regard to wetlands pollution, and the
Convention's Preamble recognizes that "wetlands constitute a
resource of great economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational
value, the loss of which would be irreparable..."  Therefore,
wetlands should be preserved by  "wise use."  In order to become
a party to the convention, a state must designate at least one
wetland of significance to be included on Ramsar's List of Wetlands
of International Importance. 
     The Convention does not stipulate firm guidelines or
management criteria concerning the "wise use" of wetlands on the
List. The parties are not legally obligated to uphold the
Preamble's conservation principle to "stem the progressive
encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future". 
Parties are to follow three vague guidelines, none of which are
legally binding.
     1.  Formulate and implement their planning so as to
     promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the
     2.  Inform the Convention Bureau as to changes in the
     ecological character of wetlands within their territory.
     3.  Promote conservation by establishing nature reserves
     on wetlands and providing for their care. 
     Alexandre Timoshenko notes that despite its lack of procedures
for evolution, international environmental law experiences
demonstrate that "an important characteristic of any international
environmental treaty is its ability to evolve according to changing
external factors: accumulation of knowledge, technological
developments, or the evolution of political situations". 
Timoshenko thus provides a model for the enhancement of the
Convention to strengthen and clarify the application of its
policies.  Cheryl Jamieson compares the recent expansion by the
United States of the concept of Ramsar as an exclusive treaty for
migratory waterfowl protection to that of a habitat protection
3.        Related Cases
     Keyword Clusters
     (1): Domain                   = ASIA 
     (2): Bio-geography            = OCEAN
     (3): Environmental Problem    = HABITat loss
4.        Draft Author:  Rebecca Hamel
B.        LEGAL Clusters
5.        Discourse and Status:  DISagreement and INPROGress
     Japan's import of and investment in prawns would apparantly
run contrary to the spirit of the Ramsar Convention.
6.        Forum and Scope:  RAMSAR and MULTIlateral
     The 40 plus countries who are signatories to the Ramsar
Convention include the United States, Japan, Australia, and most
Western European countries. 
7.        Decision Breadth:  40 (RAMSAR signatories)
8.        Legal Standing:  TREATY
C.        GEOGRAPHIC Clusters
9.        Geographic Locations
     a.   Geographic Domain : ASIA
     b.   Geographic Site   : East Asia [EASIA]
     c.   Geographic Impact : JAPAN
10.       Sub-National Factors:  NO
11.       Type of Habitat:  TROPical
D.        TRADE Clusters
12.       Type of Measure:  Import Ban [IMBAN]
13.       Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  DIR
14.       Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact
     a.  Directly Related          : YES  WOOD
     b.  Indirectly Related        : YES  PRAWN
     c.  Not Related               : NO
     d.  Process Related           : YES  Habitat Loss [HABIT] 
15.       Trade Product Identification:  PRAWN
     The leading exporters of prawn to Japan are Indonesia and
16.       Economic Data
                   [Table III-45-1 about here]
17.       Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness:  BAN
18.       Industry Sector:  FOOD
19.       Exporter and Importer:  MANY and JAPAN
     The top five exporters of sea-life to Japan include Thailand,
Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia.
E.        ENVIRONMENT Clusters
20.       Environmental Problem Type:  HABITat loss
     Bio-diversity figures from Vietnam indicate that there are
seventy-one threatened species of mammals, birds, reptiles and
amphibians.  Not all of these animals are endangered and not all
relate to the destruction of mangroves for prawn farming. 
21.       Name, Type, and Diversity of Species 
          Name:          MANY
          Type:          MANY
          Diversity:     NA
22.       Impact and Effect:  HIGH and PRODuct
23.       Urgency and Lifetime:  MEDium and 100s of years
     Indications are that as industrialization and man-made
controls increase, wetlands destruction will grow.  In Europe,
wetlands were viewed as problem areas that slow water traffic,
nurture pests, and are generally an unproductive use of land.  As
wetlands were filled in or drained, such as in the Rhine River
Valley, the areas were altered beyond recognition.  It is estimated
that although this area has suffered damage over a period of 200
years, most of the damage occurred during the past 40 years through
pollution and runoff, dams, drainage, and diversion channels. 
Therefore, increased controls such as on prawn farming, could
hasten the destruction.
24.       Substitutes:  LIKE products
     Several alternatives to destroying mangroves for shrimp
farming have been suggested.  Prawns can be farmed in man-made tubs
which do not require the destruction of wetlands.  There is an
experimental commercial shrimp farm in Danang, Vietnam which was
established a joint venture between Vietnam's Bank for Agriculture
and the Charoen Pokphand Group from Thailand. This farm is the
first part of a long-term plan for shrimp breeding, processing, and
exporting.  The Deputy Minister for Marine Products, Dr. Huynh Cong
Hoa admits that the United Nations Development Programme has warned
the project about the threat of shrimp farming to mangrove forests;
however, Dr. Hoa states that the project uses only available farms
and is not expanding further into mangrove forests. 
VI.       OTHER Factors
25.       Culture:  NO
26.       Trans-Border:  NO
27.       Human Rights:  NO
28.       Relevant Literature 
Jamieson, Cheryl L., "An Analysis of Municipal Wetland Laws and 
     Their Relationship to the Convention on Wetlands of
     International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat
     (Ramsar)."  Pace Environmental Law Review 4 (1986): 177-
Platt, Anne E.  Review of Wetlands in Danger: A World 
     Conservation Atlas by the IUCN-World Conservation Union. 
     Edited by Patrick Dugan Oxford University Press, New
     York, 1993.  Review in World Watch 7/1 (January/February
     1994): 37-38.
"Ramsar Meeting in Hokkaido to Debate Waterfowl Habitats." 
     Kyodo New Service, May 26, 1993.
Rush, James.  The Last Tree: Reclaiming the Environment in
     Tropical Asia.  The Asia Society, New York, New York,
Supapohn Kanwerayotin.  "Vietnam: CP To Run Experimental Shrimp 
     Farm in Vietnam."  Bangkok Post (December 22, 1992).
Timoshenko, Alexandre S.  "Protection of Wetlands by 
     International Law," Pace Environmental Law Review 5/2
     (Spring 1988): 463-472. 
United Nations Industrial Development Organization.  Vietnam:
     Industrial Policy Reform and International Cooperation.
     New York, UNIDO, 1991.
World Resources Institute.  World Resources 1992-1993.  World 
     Resources Institute, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
World Bank.  "Strategy for Forest Sector Development in Asia." 
     Washington, DC: Land Resources Unit, Asia Technical
     Department, 1992.


[End notes will be added]

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