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Ethnic Cơ Tu people treasure threatened freshwater fish



By Công Thành

An ethnic Cơ Tu man begins a day fishing in nature. The ethnic group use traditional tools to catch fish for food in central Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Rose Travel

Vũng Bọt Stream in central Việt Nam forms at the intersection of the Bắc (North) and Nam (South) rivers that merge with the Cu Đê River and is home to the niên fish (Onychostoma gerlachi). 

This natural freshwater fish species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but forms a key part of the culture of the Cơ Tu ethnic group in Quảng Nam and Đà Nẵng, where it is used for food, particularly at major festivals.

It can be prepared in many different styles, including boiled, steamed, raw and as a mixed salad, but grilled fish is the favourite option with the best taste that showcases the unique style of the Cơ Tu, who largely reside in central Việt Nam.

Bùi Văn Siêng, 76, a Cơ Tu man, said the community believes the fish is a precious gift from heaven, so it is strictly hunted for family use only.

 A ‘niên’ fish (Onychostoma gerlachi), a natural freshwater fish species, is measured for conservation research at the Cơ Tu ethnic community in Tà Lang and Giàn Bí villages of Đà Nẵng. — Photo courtesy of Chu Mạnh Trinh 

“Local fisherman previously used crossbows or catapults to catch fish upstream. The fish could be easily found in mass in Vũng Bọt Stream. You could feel them hit your feet when crossing,” Siêng said.

The fish is symbolic culture of the Cơ Tu in Quảng Nam, particularly for about 1,000 people in Tà Lang and Giàn Bí villages, who have preserved their ethnic living style for more than half of century since they migrated here in the late 1960s.

The fish is sold at VNĐ250,000 (US$11) to VNĐ500,000 per kilogram at restaurants, making it the most hunted fish in the rivers of the central region.

Tourists cross Vũng Bọt upstream in Tà Lang Village — home to the Cơ Tu ethnic minority in the suburbs of Đà Nẵng City. The village has been doing the community-based tourism. — Photo courtesy of Hoà Bắc community-based tourism 

Bùi Hoài Vũ, a local fish hunter and guide, said fishermen had to hold their breath for a six-metre deep dive to catch fish by handmade crossbows or tridents.

“Fishing with rudimentary tools is a harvest leisure activity of the Cơ Tu. We catch fish when going swimming or reserve it for food. It’s not for sale,” Vũ said.

“Previously, we used to catch mature fish weighing from 200 to 300 grams each, while smaller ones or fish in the breeding season were released. Electric shocks can kill mature and small fishes at the same time. Illegal poachers even fish in the rainy breeding season.”

Vũ said the fish population had seriously declined in recent years due to poor management of fishing activities.

“Previously local hunters could catch several kilos of fish in an hour, but now only two or three fish are collected. Mass fish swimming upstream for reproduction in the rainy season is rarely seen by now,” he said.

Fish guard team

An ethnic Cơ Tu woman does brocade weaving in Giàn Bí Village of Hòa Bắc Commune in suburban Đà Nẵng. The craft serves community-based tourism in the village. —VNS Photo Lê Lâm

To protect the fish species, scientists and conservationists have been working with the Cơ Tu community and local administration on a programme to sustain the population of the rare fish.

The Niên Fish Conservation project, which received funding from the United Nations of Development Programme through the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme to preserve Cơ Tu ethnic culture and conserve the Bà Nà-Núi Chúa nature reserve, was born in late 2021.

The first fish protection team was established with 30 members, mainly previous local hunters from Tà Lang and Giàn Bí villages.

The team was assigned to educate the locals on the use of traditional fishing tools and warning against fishing by electric shocks.

A Lăng Như, a member of the team, said the ethnic Cơ Tu people did not have a habit of electric-shock fishing, but fishermen from other areas do it.

Như said that electric shock fishing apparently resulted in a drop in the fish population in Tà Lang and Giàn Bí.

Thái Văn Hoài Nam, chairman of the Hòa Bắc Communal People’s Committee, said the Niên Fish Conservation project was an urgent plan to save the fish species from extinction.

The project also aims to develop community-based eco-tourism, highlighting the craftwork of the Cơ Tu people and education on sustainable fishing.

A report released by the Hòa Bắc authorities showed that traditional methods using a crossbow, fishing rod or net made up about 90 per cent of local fishing, while 10 per cent used electric shocks.

However, just a small percentage of electric shock could lead to a severe reduction in the fish population, which could soon be extinct.

The Cu Đê River in the upstream area of Hòa Bắc Commune in Đà Nẵng. The river is home to ‘niên’ fish, the ‘near threatened’ freshwater fish species. Photo courtesy of Bùi Văn Tuấn 

Chu Mạnh Trinh, a conservationist, said local governments and the wider community had been building community-based tourism to promote the conservation of the fish, Cơ Tu culture and crafts, such as handloom weaving and bamboo wickerwork, cuisine and lifestyle.

Trinh said Cơ Tu ethnic community-based tourism services were also building links with the Chàm Islands (a world biosphere reserve site in Quảng Nam), Hội An’s sustainable suburban areas, wetland and mangrove forests in Quảng Ngãi, and Sa Huỳnh Culture.

Such links aim to form a circle of heritage and a sustainable value chain for international education and experience tours.

Tà Lang and Giàn Bí villages are located in a vast valley between the two nature reserves of Bạch Mã in Thừa Thiên Huế and Bà Nà-Núi Chúa of Đà Nẵng, 40km west of Đà Nẵng City, so it is easy to create connectivity with tourism hubs in the central region.

The niên fish species is part of the traditional culture of the Cơ Tu people and helps serve community-based tourism. Fish conservation helps promote sustainable fishing among communities in central Việt Nam and creates experience sites for international conservationists and sustainable tourism studies.  VNS



Hanoi to impress visitors through beautiful gifts, tourism photos



To create a breakthrough in tourism promotion, and contribute to the rapid and sustainable development of Hanoi’s tourism industry, the Department of Tourism of the capital city has launched a gift design contest and a tourism photo competition.

Hanoi to impress visitors through beautiful gifts, tourism photos hinh anh 1Thang Long Imperial Citadel (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi – To create a breakthrough in tourism promotion, and
contribute to the rapid and sustainable development of Hanoi’s tourism
industry, the Department of Tourism of the capital city has launched a gift design
contest and a tourism photo competition.

The two contests aim to select photos and products that meet
the artistic criteria, show a typical, rich and diverse culture, tourism
resources, tourist attractions, historical sites, festivals, traditional craft
villages, and the culinary culture of Hanoi for dissemination and promotion of
the capital city’s tourism to both domestic and international tourists.

Entries should show the difference and diversity in
materials and colours, and be friendly to the environment, safe to human
health, and not deformed or changed by the climate and weather. The
organising board prioritizes products that use available materials, are local
traditional crafts and convenient for mass production, and have high
applicability and reasonable prices.

All professional and amateur photographers, artisans,
painters, designers, organisations, enterprises and individuals can participate
in the contest held from June 1 to July 31.

The organising board will present awards and display works
from September to October.

All individuals and organisations can find out detailed
information about the contests’ rules on the website of the Department of
Tourism ( and on the mass media. Entries can be
sent to the Hanoi Department of Tourism’s headquarter at 11B Cat Linh street,
Dong Da district.

The capital city is making every effort to revive its
tourism after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 8.61 million tourists, including some 211,300
foreigners, visited the city between January and June, nearly tripling the
figure in the same period last year.

The city’s total tourism revenue in the first half of 2022
amounted to approximately 25.2 trillion VND (1.08 billion USD), more than three
times the figure in the first six months of 2021.

Local hotels rated 1-5 stars recorded an average occupation
rate of over 30% during the period, up 6.11% year-on-year.

The capital city, home to 24 recognised tourist
destinations, is offering a series of enticing products to attract tourists
given its reopening of the local tourism industry. These include night tours at
Hoa Lo Prison and Thang Long ancient citadel; a northern mountainous wet market
programme at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay
township; and the Hanoi City Tour by double-decker buses. 

In addition, Hanoi has also launched many tourism
exhibitions, trade fairs, and festivals.

Hanoi to impress visitors through beautiful gifts, tourism photos hinh anh 2Tourism gifts (Photo: VNA)

It is striving to welcome and serve 9-10 million visitors
in 2022, including 1.2-2 million international visitors. Total revenue from
tourists is expected to reach 27-35 trillion VND.

By 2023, the city is planning to welcome and serve 12-14
million visitors, including 2.5-3.5 million foreign visitors, earning a
total revenue from 42 to 55 trillion VND.

It eyes to welcome over 30 million visitors, including 7
million foreigners, by 2025, according to the municipal Party Committee’ draft
conclusion on tourism development for 2016-2020 and following years. The
visitors are expected to spend more than 130 trillion VND while in the capital.

To that end, Hanoi plans to expand new tourism products
based on the potential of each area, in a bid to gradually resume all tourism activities
this year in an important step to develop the tourism sector sustainably after
the pandemic.

Culinary and heritage tourism as well as MICE, a type of
tourism combining meeting, incentives, conferences and events will be promoted
in inner districts while spiritual and agro-tourism will be developed in
suburban areas.

Such types of tourism including resort and health tourism;
community and spiritual tourism will be prioritised in rural areas of the city.

The municipal People’s Committee has designed seven main
tasks and solutions to develop tourism in adaptation to the new normal, with an
emphasis on ensuring safety for both destinations and visitors.

The city will strive to devise unique tourism products to
meet visitors’ demand, and improve quality of tourism products and destinations
linked with heritage sites, relics and craft villages.

Seminars will be organised to train local residents at
destinations in knowledge and skills relating to serving tourists. Training
classes on community-based tourism will also be held in some districts at the
same time.

Hotels and resorts in inner and suburban areas are
encouraged to implement promotion programmes as well as services tailored to
satisfy tourists’ demand for short vacations./.


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Vietnam’s cultural heritage space to run in Hoi An



An exhibition of Vietnam’s cultural heritage space will open in Hoi An city, the central province of Quang Nam, from July 8 to 13.

Vietnam’s cultural heritage space to run in Hoi An hinh anh 1Trang An landscape complex in Ninh Binh province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi – An exhibition of Vietnam’s cultural
heritage space will open in Hoi An city, the central province of Quang Nam,
from July 8 to 13.

A total of 160 photos on display will introduce UNESCO-recognised
heritages, national special relic sites and intangible heritages in Vietnam
such as the Dien Bien Phu battlefield in Dien Bien, Hung Temple in Phu Tho,
water puppetry, and Binh Dinh martial arts.

Green tourist destinations and a trend of environmentally
friendly tourism will also be featured.

In another part of the exhibition, visitors will be treated to images of and items from traditional craft villages across the country.

Every day during the course of the event, an exchange programme
spotlighting folk art and culture is scheduled.

As an activity to welcome the Visit Vietnam Year 2022 hosted
by Quang Nam under the theme of green tourism, the exhibition will go online
from July 12 at


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Exploring Bat Trang pottery museum in Hanoi



The pottery museum in Bat Trang ancient pottery village forms part of the Centre for the Quintessence of the Vietnamese Craft Village and is about 15km from the heart of Hanoi. The museum houses myriad cultural and historical values from the village.


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