DMCR officers began moving buoys at Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai, all a handful of kilometres off Phuket’s east coast, yesterday (July 14).
“Today (July 15), we started moving the big buoys that fishing and large tour boats use because they were too close to shore and inside the swimming zone,” said DMCR Phuket Director Suchart Rattanareangsri.
At low tides, the bottom of large boats hit the shallow reefs, said Mr Suchart. “Also, some captains were dropping their anchors in the area, which was also causing damage to the reefs,” he said.
DMCR officers are also installing more buoys for smaller boats to use, Mr Suchart said.
“We have started installing more smaller buoys at Koh Khai Nok first, and we hope to finish there by next week,” he said.
“The buoys are outside the safe swimming zone so boat captains can safely drop off and pick up their guests,” explained Mr Suchart.
“We do not allow boats and jet-skis to come inside the safe zone for tourists’ safety and also to protect our reefs,” he added.
Maps of the zones where tourists can swim safely and and where tour boats can tie up to buoys will be available soon, Mr Suchart added.
“After we have finished, we will create a map to let tourists and tour operators know what and where they can and cannot do while visiting these islands, and we will continue working to enforce the rules,” he said.
The move to protect corals at the three Koh Khai islands follows a crackdown on tourist activities at the popular sites late last month. (See story here.)
The installation of safe swim zones also follows the death of 18-year-old Chinese tourist Li Yuheng after he suffered fatal slash wounds inflicted by a speedboat propeller while he was on a tour to Phi Phi Island last week. (See story here.)