24 March 2005

Artificial reefs to replace Phuket's damaged coral

Local fisheries officials in Thailand's southern resort province of Phuket yesterday promised to closely monitor the activities of trawler vessels, following the discovery that trawlers are destroying coral reefs which provide essential monsoon shelter for dolphins.

The move by the local fisheries office comes after local hotelier Kritaya Sangiamkil submitted a petition to Phuket Governor Udomsak Assawarangkura and Phuket fisheries chief Panya Assawarangkura, calling for a ban on the use of trawler nets near the coral reefs.

Noting that trawlers had already caused extensive damage to coral in the vicinity of Koh Racha Yai, Mrs. Kritaya warned that further damage would be done unless urgent action was taken.

The sea around Koh Racha Yai are not only noted for its coral, which attracts large numbers of tourists, but also for its dolphins using the coral to provide shelter from monsoon waves.

Several dolphins have already been killed after having been caught up in trawler nets.

Mrs. Kritaya's petition yesterday prompted a pledge from the local fisheries chief that he would send his officials to monitor the problems, and that the owners of fishing vessels operating illegally would face legal action.

In the long term, he said, fisheries officials would seek to create artificial reefs to help compensate for the damage already done.


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