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The beached whale shark is skinned so it will degrade faster

Phuket Talks Aim to Save Marine Life as Fisheries, Tourism Play Blame Game

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
PHUKET: The Director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre hopes to talk to authorities in the fishing and tourism industries with the aim of better protecting the Phuket region's marine life.

Ukrit Satapoomin made his comment after the burial of a seven-metre whale shark on a beach at Koh Lanta.

The large whale shark died on the same weekend that a sick dolphin and three maimed turtles died as marine biologists at the Phuket centre tried to nurse them back to health.

Marine deaths and maimings have prompted debate about what needs to happen to preserve Phuket's coral reefs and beaches and the creatures that inhabit the waters around them.

The growth in the tourism industry - with more boats and garbage going into the sea - and the fishing industry are blamed for the perception that more marine creatures are now being needlessly killed or maimed.

The Director Of the Phuket Provincial Fisheries Office, Kawi Saranakhomkun, said today that trawlers were well aware of the 3000 metre protected zone around Thailand's coast and did not fish within it.

''Our members operate within the law and every year we hold meetings to remind the captains that they must release endangered animals caught in their nets.''

Khun Kawi said he believed that tourism did far more harm to the Phuket region's marine life than fishing.

''Our industry causes minor damage compared to plastic trash that chokes the animals to death,'' he said. ''There are also more tourist vessels operating within the 3000 metre protected zone than ever before.

''This inevitably leads to propellors hitting the turtles.''

Biological Centre Director Khun Ukrit believes that businesses and local administrations on Phuket have to first take care of all bad water before releasing it into the sea.

''Once that is done, the coastal environment will improve,'' he said. ''Fortunately, Phuket is blessed in some ways by having strong currents that provide some relief.''

He says there are strong economic arguments why the fishing industry needs to be preserved and efforts to change the approach needed to be carried out within those limitations.

''I hope to be able to hold some talks aimed at reducing the toll on marine life,'' he said. ''But there is only so much we can do because the laws are plain.''

More local politicians are using the word ''sustainability'' without necessarily being empowered to achieve it.

Phuketwan has suggested that a Phuket Beach Authority needs to be created to protected all beaches from the rapid damage occurring because of privatisation and pollution.

Meanwhile, the whale shark has been buried on a beach on Koh Lanta. Once the bones have been stripped clean, marine biologists hope to dig up the skeleton for display.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"Phuketwan has suggested that a Phuket Beach Authority needs to be created to protected all beaches from the rapid damage occurring because of privatisation and pollution."

So you keep saying, especially when you are rubbishing your readers' alternative suggestions.
Who exactly have you made this suggestion to, and what have you done to follow up?

Posted by stu on October 16, 2012 12:51

Editor Comment:

There have been no alternative solutions proposed with any chance of working. All Phuket's beaches need the same clarity and consistency applied and enforced. That can only come with one set of rules for all, and with the income from commercial activities directed to maintain, protect and safeguard all beaches. We don't ''rubbish readers' alternatives''. So far there haven't been any.
As we've said more than once, we're advocates, not activists. The people of Phuket have to decide whether they want their beaches back.

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stu, in my country, Australia, there are 3 levels of government, local, state and federal (as editor would certainly be aware of), ALL, I repeat ALL are responsible for beaches and lower levels can be overruled by the higher authority and the High Court of Australia, it should be the same here without the need of a separate authority, that has been suggested by PW. Where else in the world does the navy have authority over the beaches?

Posted by dbate_me on October 16, 2012 13:14

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Off the east coast of USA, at designated times of the year, speed limits are imposed on all marine vessels to allow migrating & breeding whales sufficient time to move clear of their path. The notices are prominently posted on the bridge on all vessels I pilot. I would suggest that these speed boats running at excessive speeds to/from Phi Phi & other islands, give marine creatures such as turtles no chance whatsoever to avoid being maimed. Do we really need 'high speed' tourist trips?

Posted by Logic on October 16, 2012 13:55

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As I expected, tourism gets the blame.

If you want to know the truth about how much garbage fishing boats toss overboard, just watch them come to harbor and see how little, if any garbage is brought ashore. 1 week out on the sea and no garbage ? Right. Fishing boats don't toss anything plastic overboard.

The huge numbers of discarded fishing nets underwater must have come from tourist carrying speedboats too I guess.

Add to that the devastating dragnets that scrape the ocean floor and catch everything in their way and the illegal fishing traps even in protected marine parks.

Fortunately the working conditions on fishing vessels for immigrant workers are also known to be lovely and relaxed.

Khun Kawi is surely at the helm of an admirable industry in every feasible way.

Posted by Andrew on October 16, 2012 15:41

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Also thinks that there could be some education/control about the vessels remember to take their garbage with them back to port.
Plastic bottles from shampoo, toothpaste, nets, light bulbs & TV's do not appear to come from the hands of tourists. (Surely tourism has an impact as well, in other ways, and should not be neglected either)

Posted by Hmm on October 16, 2012 17:16

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What about set aside areas?

For tourism artificial reefs are a great idea keeping tourism pressure off natural reef systems.

Posted by Richard Ceross on October 17, 2012 06:07

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Go on Andrew ! Get 'em telt !

I'm sure Khun Kawi is absolutely correct that all captains release all endangered animals from their nets. There'd be no conversation along the lines of ... "do you know much effort that would be ? Surely just one or two ...." Followed by "alright just keep it quiet" ... I can't ever see that happpening !

Having said that tourism must inevitably play a part too and must also try to minimise its impact.

Posted by James on October 17, 2012 17:08


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