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The summit banned jetskis from Racha island

Racha Summit Brings Artificial Reef, Ban on Jetskis

Friday, August 8, 2008
Friday TRENDS Special: Updates All Day

AN EIGHT million baht artificial reef will be established off Racha, part of a deal aimed at protecting the island's natural coral reefs and preserving the peace between divers, fishermen and locals.

At a summit meeting on the island this afternoon, all parties agreed:

..snorkellers and divers will be split into separate zones

..speedboats and longtails will anchor at a distance from the beach.

..jetskis and banana boats will be banned

..swimmers will be barred when low tide exposes beach coral reefs trawlers will be banned from going within 300 metres of the island coral fish will no longer be stolen for sale

..animal life on the island will not be killed

..first diving lessons will be held on the beaches

..specific diving areas will be set for beginners anchors will be dropped from boats fires will be lit on island beaches

..a colored buoy system will be established, without detracting from the beauty of the seascape

..bottles, plastic and other trash will be removed by the people who brought it

Are these measures enough? Have your say about the future of the Andaman in the Comment box below. It's easy!

The undertaking to create an eight-million baht artificial reef came from the Rawai Tessaban.

About 30 representatives from various interested bodies gathered on Racha today to set new guidelines to protect the island and its coral reefs, which have become too popular with the boom in Phuket tourism.

Talks with diving groups were continuing late into the afternoon.

It had already been agreed that one area, Ao Khon Khae, would be for snorkellers only, and that around the whole island a system of buoys would careful mark where speedboats can go.

What's decided on Racha will probably be applied more widely to save other reefs around the Andaman region.

It's also hoped the summit will forestall open disputes between squabbling fishermen and divers. Both rely on the reefs for their income.

Locals and conservationists also have a vital interest, along with the owners of the five-star Racha Resort. All were represented today.

Today's decisions will be submitted to the Governor's office for ratification.

He is unlikely to reject an overwhelming community consensus call for sweeping change aimed at protecting the region's natural assets.

Before noon, groups of local fishermen led by Sutapateep Na Talang, from Chalong, talked with Supon Sukarain, of the Racha Island Conservation and Self-care Club.

They agreed that fishermen on trawlers would stay at least 300 metres off the main beaches at Racha.

If the no-go zone idea worked, in three months time it would become island law.

Local fishermen who use longtails objected to the condition, making the point that they were only doing what their forefathers had been doing for generations.

The ban should not apply to them, they said.

It was pointed out that sea gypsies were not represented at the meeting. They had been told to stay away.

In the afternoon, agreement was reached on a range of moves aimed at protecting the island and the reefs from overuse and abuse.

The Rawai Tessaban undertook to spend eight million baht to create an artificial reef off Racha, consisting of old boats and aircraft, that would in time help to relieve the damage being done to the island's natural reefs.

A similar artificial reef, consisting of obsolete aircraft and helicopters, is to be sunk off Bang Tao beach in November.

More talks on Racha were scheduled later today for the dive industry.

Paitoon Planchaiyaphon, director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, was at the meeting, along with Promchote Traivate, of the Tourism and Sport Ministry.

Khun Paitoon is helping to resolve the present tension. He is extremely concerned about the future of the Racha reefs, as well as others in the region.

Khun Paitoon says that construction runoff into the sea, coupled with ignorant tourists, over-fishing and global warming, is causing the quality of the Andaman's highly prized reefs to deteriorate rapidly.

At Chalong Pier this morning, divers were heading out on liveaboard boats to more distant reefs.

Racha is closer and convenient and as a result extremely popular with divers as well as for tourist snorkelling trips. It has a variety of reefs at depth between five and 30 metres.

But troubling signs are present of permanent damage, leading to today's summit.

Can community action save Phuket's precious beaches and coral reefs from destruction through greed and ignorance? If the experience of Racha island is a true indication, the answer has changed from No to Yes.

Racha Summit May Lead To Saving Phuket's Beauty

Look for
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email or telephone 081 6513489.

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Look for
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email or telephone 081 6513489.


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Wednesday July 24, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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