Hard corals, like this one off Koh Lanta, are at greatest risk. Photo: Quinet

PHUKET: — With coral reef systems in Thai coastal waters at a “crisis” level, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) has vowed to step up his department’s efforts to mitigate the damage caused by the fishing industry and other human factors.

“Currently, our natural coral reefs are not half of what they used to be – we are in a crisis,” said PMBC director Pinsak Suraswadi on Tuesday.

“The areas that have been most seriously affected are those that are regularly exposed to human activity, such as off tourist destinations along the coast,” he added.

Though the entire region is in trouble, the Gulf of Thailand is at greater risk than the Andaman coast, he said.

“Abundant and beautiful coral reefs are now only found in national parks, such as the Surin Island and Similan Island reserves. In these places the coral is still world class.”

“Closing National Parks has definitely been helpful in giving the corals time to recover from the pressure humans exert on the ecosystem,” he said, in reference to the annual closure from May through November.

The PMBC is attempting to prevent damage to coral reefs caused by the fishing industry through a variety of programs. One such program, established in Songkhla, involves the purchase of used fishing equipment in order to discourage fisherman from throwing rubbish, such as old netting, into the sea, he explained.

“Everyone can get involved in preserving our marine environment; it’s not just the responsibility of the government. Changes made in our daily lives, such as using less soap and fewer plastic bags, can really make a difference,” he said.

Mr Pinsak also made a push for the establishment of more artificial reefs in order to reduce the pressure on natural reef systems.

“It will reduce the effect the diving tourism industry has on the natural reefs. Artificial reefs, such as scuttled ships, will provide new diving destinations,” he said.

Mr Pinsak pointed out that the PMBC had recently become involved with the “Green Fins Project”, which encourages tourists to wear life jackets and keep their feet away from corals when snorkeling.

“Also, we ask tourists not to chase turtles in order to photograph them or feed marine animals,” he added.

Mr Pinsak made it clear that coordination and cooperation between all those concerned was necessary to prevent further degradation.

Very sad to hear this report.

Long tailed boat, Phi Phi island, Krabi Thailand.

We travelled by ship from Phuket towards Phi Phi Island and then boarded a long tail boat in the shallow water to to get into the shore of Phi Phi.

This is a picture of another tail boat that I took along the way doing the cave trips.

Phi Phi is one of the best Islands that I have ever seen with it’s crystal clear blue water and beautiful sandy beaches. We spent some time snorkeling with the wonderfully coloured tropical fish and finished off the day with a sea food dinner. A great day out!

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White Plate Day

When you buy a car in Thailand it is delivered with red number plates to show that it s still to be registered. after one month the red plates will be replaced by white plates to show that the car is filly registered to the owner. There are some restrictions on driving a ‘red; plate car at certain times of the day and also outside the Province of purchase, so it’s good to get the white plates as soon as possible.

Mt car is now 3 months old and still has the red plates, so is a pain due to the above restrictions and the chance of eing stopped by the Thai Police and having to donate ‘tea money’ (bribe).

We have been trying to get the white plates since day 1 but have been told that there is apparently an aluminum shortage, so no plates are being issued. The plates are made in Thai prisons by the way, maybe that’s why the aluminum has gone missing mmm!

Anyway we got the call and our legal plates have arrived, so happy day and no more tea money to pay!

Thai restaurant Bang Sare, Sattahip, Thailand 2009

This was the first restaurant that we went to since moving from Bangkok to Jomtien. We had a very romantic evening watching the sun go down whilst eating quality local Thai food. There are many similar restaurants along the coast so it’s great to explore and you might be surprised at what you find.

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