On May 10, the MAM project hosted a technical meeting with the Ca Mau provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) on payment for ecosystem services (PES) in aquaculture under Government Decree 156/2018/NĐ-CP in Ca Mau Province. The meeting drew attention from Mr. Chau Cong Bang, deputy of DARD and a great number of representatives from the district-level officials and forest management boards from large forest-covered areas such as Nam Can, Ngoc Hien, Phu Tan and Dam Doi.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Mr. Chau Cong Bang, hailed SNV’s support for the province in the last six years, including the building of a local PES policy in aquaculture. He said Decision 111/QD-UBND, dated in 2016 by the provincial People’s Committee with the support from MAM project, is the first PES written policy in Vietnam. At the meeting, Dr. Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, MAM project manager, said that since MAM’s piloting of PES for integrated mangrove-shrimp model in the province, thousands of shrimp households have signed contracts with Minh Phu Seafood Corp. Accordingly, more than VND5 billion (US$214,000) has been paid for PES to farmers. During its pilot phase, MAM connected with companies which paid more than VND2 billion (US$86,000) for PES. Thanks to the successful piloted implementation of PES policy, the MAM project has provided scientific and legal bases for the drafting of Government Decree 156/2018/ND-CP, which was put into effect in 1 January of this year.

However, with the new Government Decree, the province needs to adjust the existing local policy in order to adapt to the new national policy on PES and implement it effectively in the context of Ca Mau. According to Dr. Nguyen Chi Thanh, MAM policy expert, the province does not need to draft a new legal normative document, instead it should specify articles promulgated in Decree No. 156 to create a common understanding and agreement amongst stakeholders involved in PES policy.

Dr. Thanh said a common understanding is important for implementing of PES policy as it is one of the most important steps that must be taken to ensure the sustainable preservation and development of mangrove forests. One of the most discussed issues in the meeting was what should be the base for measuring the rate for PES. While under Decree No. 156, the rate of environment services shall not be under 1% of the payers’ total realised revenue in a payment period, representatives from local forestry and aquaculture sectors said it is not easy to verify the exact 1% revenue of the payers. Participants at the meeting requested for recommendations on another base for calculating PES rate.

Mr. Chau Cong Bang said on behalf of DARD said that recommendations from MAM experts, and feedback and comments from participants of the meeting are all well-taken. The DARD agrees that it is necessary to develop a document the specifies the PES implementation in Ca Mau. The process of developing this document will be carried out with the support of the MAM proejct, from proposing to the People's Committee the form of the document, to organising technical meetings with relevant agencies to solicit their feedback for developing the draft document which will be submitted to the Provincial People's Committee for approval and implementation.

The implementation of PES policy in Ca Mau will continue to create economic incentives for shrimp farmers and enhance the effectively conservation of forest on a wider scale. In addition, an agreement in terms of thinking and acting throughout the province also enhances the transparency and fairness among the seafood enterprises in the province and as well as neighboring provinces in the Mekong Delta.