One of the organisers - of what was billed as the biggest reef cleanup of any kind in the world - Kerry Leach, Dive Centre Manager of Sub Aqua Centre told The Phuket News that despite the belief to the contrary the impetus of the event was not for the island’s divers to make amends.
“People often blame divers for the disappearance and damage of coral reefs, but let me tell you that I’ve just come back from Komodo in Indonesia where they have more beginner divers than us over here and less experienced schools, and their corals are fine – perfect. The only difference between us and them are the size of the fishing boats. They have small boats and we have huge fishing trawlers.”
Mrs Leach said she was incredibly happy with the turnout: over 450 participants and 14 Padi boats.
“The total debris we collected was 15 tons. This included one large fishing net off the East Coast of Racha Noi which was 4 tons alone – the retrieval of this particular item was started by a team of divers from the various participating dive centres and then continued with the help of the Royal Thai Navy, Thai Navy Seals, Department of Marine & Coastal Resources and a local fishing boat that happened to be close by.”
The day after the the event, Phuket-based environmental organisation SEEK organised an ‘Island Wide Beach Clean.’ Nick Anthony, one of the founding members and organisers of the event said of its significance.
“We wanted to coincide it with the ‘Dive For Debris’ clean up and also a farewell for Govenor Tri Augkaradecha to say thank you for him and his governance and for making Phuket much more environmentally aware of late.”
Around 50 hotels and businesses were involved during the day, mostly from the west coast of the island, but there were marinas and hotels located nearby Chalong that also got involved.
Mr Anthony explained why, “We mainly concentrated on the west coast as these are the areas that are most likely to be affected by the westerly winds that blow in trash during the monsoon season”.
He added that despite the previous day’s event, the majority of the trash that was collected was still what he considers ‘fishing debris’.
“There were not so many plastic bags or household garbage which was a good thing. This is as a result of people becoming more aware and also support by the government.”
He explained that local government had become much more ‘aggressive’ in recent times in keeping towns and more importantly gutters clean.
Speaking on the recent environmental events, he said that it was great that so many people were involved, but admitted it was only necessary to do so and with such frequency in lieu of a proper waste management system and proper fishing regulations.
“We will have to keep on doing this at least until December as this is when the wind changes direction and blows the trash outwards.”