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A man-made disaster called greed makes light work of Thai coral reefs

Phuket's Coral Reefs Being Killed by Greed: Showdown Looms at Sea

Saturday, March 14, 2015
PHUKET: A showdown is looming over the Andaman's easy-going approach to making money from tourism as Thailand's coral reefs are being rapidly destroyed forever.

Phuket and other tourism centres along the west coast reap cash from thousands of visitors while the heritage of future generations of Thais is being comprehensively ruined by mass tourism.

Islands in national parks off the coast where visitors are supposed to be limited are being exploited with hundreds of tourists degrading precious sites - and couldn't-care-less boat tour operators reaping a fortune they probably share with outlaw park rangers.

Sustainability versus selfishness. The photograph comparing the same coral reef at Phi Phi Lae shows its shocking degradation between 2002 and 2015, with the large numbers denoting those years in the Buddhist calendar.

Marine biologists and environmentalists, horrified at the damage that is being done to Thailand's irreplaceable marine heritage, are scrambling to save what's left.

Leading the campaign is Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a member of the National Reform Council who is spearheading a campaign that is calling for a public gathering at Parliament in Bangkok on March 24.

Dr Narinee Tongtam of the Marine Biological Centre recently surveyed 32 tourist boats anchored off Tachai island and found 24 of them had anchors dragging through the coral reef.

''Up to 73 percent of the coral reef has perished,'' Dr Thon said, ''mostly because there is too much activity in terms of tourist numbers and boat numbers.''

One island where up to 70 tourists at a time are permitted actually has to bear the damage from 1200 people a day, according to investigations.

Allegations are being made that rangers allow far more tourists into the national parks than they should, with someone benefitting from the park entry fees that are often paid for without receipts.

''Unless the parks are operated to strict limits from the end of 2015, visits to the coral reefs of Thailand are likely to end with this generation,'' Dr Thon warned.

Money talks louder than coral but once the coral is dead, the money will fall silent.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


it takes a brain to understand the last line of this article. Money talks louder than coral but once the coral is dead, the money will fall silent.

Posted by expat tiger on March 14, 2015 13:32


While I agree there needs to be a greater conservation effort to maintain all the coral reefs, there was a coral bleaching event where the sea water temperature reached about 34 C. It has never recovered. And these "sea walkers" and other "enterprises" as well as all the pollution is taking it's toll. Might as well kiss any "eco tourism, good bye. Just keep giving the beaches and islands to the "locals" they take such good care of the beaches and islands. Very sad situation IMHO.

Posted by Jim McGowan on March 14, 2015 14:29


Yes!..."Money talks louder than coral, but once the coral is dead, the money will fall silent". Yes!
Well as long thai authorities in charge seem to have all Alzheimer.--> Today is today, Yesterday is forgotten, Tomorrow not exist, we can be sure the money will fall silent. But present authorities don't care ( see the photos), they fill their pockets now and retire at the same time as the coral is dead.

Posted by Kurt on March 14, 2015 14:31


@ expat tiger,..YES! You hit the nail on the head. --> Brain! Well, when people have Alzheimer, than yesterday is forgotten , today is filling pocket day, and tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes, as by than the coral has gone.

Posted by Kurt on March 14, 2015 15:09


About 30 years ago diving in the Red Sea I was told not to walk or touch the coral and try to avoid any sediment being thrown up which in calm water when many diver swim it settles on corals unlike in rougher seas. Here sadly the list of ignorance is too long to mention here. Let's be honest Phuket is turning into a concrete jungle the traffic in many places is worse than major cities, it is hardly a island paradise they build every how does anyone think they can keep the corals. I have dived in many countries but this is the worst for preservation, essentially there is none except catching the odd "pla cartoon" nemo catcher.

Posted by Forever Farang on March 14, 2015 16:12


Yet another example of Thai officials being completely incapable of managing their natural resources. Thank goodness for people like Dr Narinee Tongtam, but unfortunately, if he pushes this issue he could easily find himself anchored to what is left of the reef. IMHO, there are far more Thais benefiting from the instant greedy grab than there are Thais that appreciate and value their natural resources. Oh well, the future hoards of Chinese won't care either, so let the good times roll!

Posted by Ed Sanders on March 14, 2015 16:20


Does anyone think Phuket is corrupt a little bit?

Posted by Forever Farang on March 14, 2015 17:57


Ok Picture to try and get the point across but if you want one that truly shows man's deliberate destruction pull up the coast east of Chalong Pier just before the road that the Zoo is on
and you will find a section of Mangroves cut down and killed along a stretch of the coast that really stands out as man made destructions of the environment.

Posted by mike on March 14, 2015 19:50


Put a green filter on a picture to emphasize a point. No wonder journalism has a bad reputation. Shockingly poor.

Posted by gee on March 14, 2015 21:25

Editor Comment:

As always, you're wide of the mark. The photographs were supplied by marine biologists, gee, as noted in the credit. None of them are journalists. Your ability to read appears to be as inadequate as your ability to think.

Wednesday July 17, 2024
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