The jetty is more than 190 metres long, and at low tide the floating structure rests on the seabed immediately offshore, explained Marine Ecology Chief Dr Nalinee Thongtam of the “Sixth Marine and Coastal Resource Administration” office Phuket.
“We surveyed the area and learned that the jetty is more than 190 metres long and when the tide is low the jetty sinks to the bottom on top of the coral,” Dr Nalinee said.
“At high tide, the anchor points that hold the jetty in place by rope may move when there are strong waves, and any movement of these anchor points will damage coral,” she added.
“We estimate the damage under the jetty to cover about 600sqm, which is a lot of damage. Even though some areas are only dead corals that look like rocks, if these corals were damaged by the jetty, we will hold the ‘owner’ (sic) of the jetty because these dead corals are also our natural resources,” she explained.
The “owner of the jetty” Dr Nalinee referred to is a local hotel which requested – and received – permission to install the floating jetty.
The hotel also paid for the jetty and hired a contractor to install it, as it would like its guests to use it to access the hotel, Phuket Marine Office Director Surat Sirisaiyad told The Phuket News yesterday (Nov 2).
“The hotel requested to have a jetty there and we issued them a permit,” he said.
“But we also told them to be aware of other regulations, such as marine environment and wildlife preservation laws. We told hotel management last month to stop installing due to environmental risk, but they want to wait for DMCR officials to inspect the area first,” Mr Surat said.
“Today (Nov 2) we held a meeting with officials to discuss this issue, and I will now issue them a notice to remove the structure,” he added.
Regardless, Suchart Rattanariangsri, Director of the DMCR’s Marine Resource Conservation Division at the Sixth Marine Coastal Resources Administration Office (Phuket), is adamant his office will file charges against the hotel – despite the Phuket Marine Office issuing a permit.
“The Phuket Marine Office gave the hotel a permit to build the jetty, but told the builder to check on other law and requirements before installing the floats, which I don’t think they did,” he said.
“There are so many laws regarding building structures into the water,” he added.
Mr Suchart said he would wait for the Phuket Marine Biology Centre (PMBC) to conclude their assessment of damage to the coral at the site before filing charges under the Marine and Coastal Resources Management Act (2015).
“Right now we think they broke Regulation 4 of Section 16 (of the Act), which prohibits anyone to build, seize or own anything that will damage marine and coastal natural resources,” Mr Suchart said.
“We will also enforce Section 26 of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992, which prohibits anyone to hunt or poach endangered species or protected wild animals except government,” he said.