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Bleached coral off Phuket's Nai Harn beach. Overheated water is the cause

Phuket Reef Diving Closures to Begin

Thursday, January 20, 2011
THAILAND will begin closing dive sites at seven ''hot spot'' coral reef marine parks - six off Phuket and the Andaman Coast - from tomorrow, intending to keep the sites closed for up to five years.

Closures include 18 diving sites at popular tourist destinations, among them the Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Phi Phi.

The dramatic move was announced tonight by the Director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Planned Conservation, Sunan Aroonnopparat following a meeting in Bangkok that included marine biologists and researchers.

The verdict will bring consternation among Phuket and Andaman dive operators who mostly do not see how continued diving inhibits or disturbs renewed coral growth.

An exceptionally hot period in 2010 maintained water temperature at a high level for so long that 50 percent of corals or more in some areas died from bleaching.

Khun Sunan said tonight that the closures, which could be wound back within three years depending on coral regrowth, would ensure the coral reefs recovered.

The ban on diving would also assist any potential bid by Thailand for UN World Heritage listing for Phuket and the Andaman region, based on its marine treasures, he said.

The list of diving sites where divers could from tomorrow incur a penalty of between 1000 baht and 10,000 baht is:

In Phang Nga province - Mo Koh Surin Island, Ao Sutep, Ao Mai Ngam, Koh Ster, Ao Pakkard; Mo Koh Similan, East of Eden, Ao Faiwab.

In Krabi province - Nopparat Thara Park, Phi Phi, Hin Klang.

In Satun province - Hat Chao Mai National Park, Koh Cher; Mu Ko Phetra National Park, Koh Bulon Mai Pai, Koh Bulon Don; Koh Tarutao National Park, Kohtakiang, Koh Hin Ngam, Koh Rawi, Koh Dong.

In Chumporn province - At Mo Koh Chumporn, Koh Maprao. (in the Gulf of Thailand)

A large number of diving companies centred on Khao Lak in Phang Nga are planning to meet on January 26 and expected to express dissatisfaction with aspects of the marine bans.

The dive companies are: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures; Sea Dragon Dive Center Khao Lak; IQ Dive; Liquid Adventures; Similan Diving Safari; Octavia; Big Blue Khao Lak; Wicked Diving Khao Lak; Kompas Dive Center; Geo Dive; Kon Tiki Khao Lak; Sea Bees Khao Lak; Wetzone Dive Center; Siam Adventure Divers; Private Holiday Dive Center.
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and will they stop the fishermen? The Sea Gypsies?

Posted by Vfaye on January 20, 2011 22:31

Editor Comment:

The sea gypsies have been there for a very long time and their numbers fail to match those of the tourists. The fishermen certainly need to be stopped.

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And what about the polluted water that everyday is spilled in the sea? Everywhere in Phuket the pollution increases. Nobody cares about the quality of the water and the waste waters.. When too late it won't enough to close the Iand for 3 or 5 years... need more than 10...

Posted by Dave on January 20, 2011 22:33

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I think it possibly best that any efforts towards recovery are to actively suppress illegal fishing as well as all other use in these areas. No boats or yachts of any description, A COMPLETE CLOSURE, not to penalize the dive companies as if it's their fault, which it isn't.
Let everyone share the problem.

Posted by innocent bystander on January 20, 2011 22:54

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I dove in some of those areas last year and they were sometimes too crowded. I definitely agree they need to be preserved, but do the divers and boats really increase the water temperature which seems to be the cause of bleaching that kills the coral? Will stopping diving really help it to recover? It could be I don't understand enough about it, but the link isn't clear. Limiting the number or at least managing/licensing operators and divers at all the parks seems like it would help preserve the environment.

Posted by Anonymous on January 21, 2011 04:53

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The divers go, the fishermen come. It has always been like this. The action will not help the corals, unfortunately. Local authorities are not able to control the closed areas.

Posted by Phuket Hotelier on January 21, 2011 09:13

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Thousand and thousands of octopussies died and came ashore in Portugal yesterday. The earth is speaking to us, we had better listen, or we are going to loose everything the sea has to offer.

Posted by GrahamM on January 21, 2011 09:21

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every begin of the season divers on their first liveaboard trips ALWAYS clear Similan's reefs off fish nets (clearly stuck there during monsoon season). Are they now allowing fishing boats to go there with flat sea to take and destroy the little life left???
Surely the volume of divers and boats affects the marine environment YET turning a blind eye to "locals" has always been the main issue...
it is so sad to see that they don't understand that they are ruining/killing their own treasures and source of sustainable income. Unfortunately I've seen way too many times the "size the day" attitude rather than planning ahead...

Posted by Adriano on January 21, 2011 10:42

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So who advises Sunan Aroonnopparat? Who tells him that it's the divers who are doing the damage?

Looks like another ill-informed judgement.

Posted by Mike Boyd on January 21, 2011 10:46

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why Thai never wanna learn from others country?? In Europe France closed some small area of the Corsica since more than 20 years ago: now there are a lot of fishes and marine life has preserved. In Italian close iland Sardegna they closed some area only 2 years ago.. May be too late...

Posted by Richard on January 21, 2011 11:56

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Ask Malaysia how they are doing with Sipadan island outside Borneo. It is closed but still lot of divers want to go there.

Posted by X expat on January 21, 2011 11:57

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Not only the coral bleeching but the lack of rules on diving & quantity of divers allowed has an impact. There are no rules and restrictions and divecenters and liveaboards just don't care ! The more divers the more money ! It's not so difficult to prove this. Just get on a liveaboard and see how many divers are dropped on Richelieu Rock on one single day ! Staggering frightening ! Poor richelieu rock !

Posted by Frequent diver on January 24, 2011 06:24


Friday August 1, 2014
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