The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its nineteenth and the twentieth sessions expressed concerns over the impacts which a proposed port development project could have on this site and plans of the Vietnam Government to issue a license for the establishment of a large floating hotel in the vicinity of the World Heritage site. The Bureau noted that a member of the Centre staff participated in the management planning training seminar organized by the Vietnamese authorities in Ha Long City, during 10-23 June 1997, with financial support (US$ 24,250) approved by the Committee at its last session in Merida and was informed of the following:
(i) As recommended by the Committee at the time of inscription of Ha Long Bay in the World Heritage List in 1994, a Ha Long Management Department had been set up and currently has a total staff of 102. The Department is legally authorized by the Provincial Government of Quang Ninh to protect the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Area and regulate development activities along the entire coast of the Bay.
(ii) The Vietnamese authorities have submitted a request for US$ 20,000 to the consideration of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee for the purchase of selected equipment for the Management Department of Ha Long Bay.
(iii) While the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Area is protected adequately, enforcement of environmental regulation along the coastal zone of the Quang Ninh Province needed considerable improvement.
(iv) Plans to issue a license for the establishment of a floating hotel near Ha Long Bay World Heritage area had been withdrawn.
(v) JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) will conduct an environmental study of the Ha Long Bay area.
(vi) When phase 1 of the construction of the port (i.e. Cailan port) is completed in the year 2000 about 2-4 large ships could pass through the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area each day.
The Bureau commended the Vietnamese authorities for establishing and strengthening the Ha Long Management Department and welcomed JICA's environmental study of the Ha Long Bay area. The Bureau requested the Vietnamese authorities to strictly enforce environmental regulations in the development of the coastal zone throughout the Quang Ninh Province with a view to minimizing the pollution impacts on the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area. The Bureau encouraged the Vietnamese and the Japanese authorities to cooperate in carrying out the JICA's environmental study of the coastal and marine environment of Ha Long Bay mentioned above. The Bureau encouraged the Vietnamese authorities to search for ways and means to direct large ships that are expected to pass through the World Heritage area along alternative routes.