Thanes Munnoy, Director of the Phuket Marine and Coastal Resources Office said after the meeting that the boats had anchored on coral because there were not enough buoys for them to moor to.
“This was the result of buoys being destroyed by the weather and tides or, in some cases, buoy lines being deliberately cut.
“So we will talk with the speedboat operators, fishing boats, and other boats owners about dividing the [water around the island into] zones for the different boat types.
“We might also adopt the system from Koh Tao where they have divides the water into different usage zones – a preservation zone [off-limits to tourists], a reserved zone [for research only], an [ecological] restoration zone and the zone that is open for everyone. We will discuss the idea with relevant departments.”
Asked about penalties for the boats that anchored in coral, he said, “This happened because we didn’t have sufficient buoys for them. However, it was technically illegal. We had a meeting with boat operators on October 10, when we have told them it was illegal. We will install more buoys before the coming high season.”
However, he said, now that boat operators have been told to stop this practice, his department will begin to apply the law: for a first offence a warning; for the second, an automatic fine; for further offences, cancellation of operating license, and a date with the courts.
He noted that there had already been a case in Rayong where the speedboat owner was fined B40,000 and received a suspended jail sentence.
“If the infringement is obvious, then we have to follow the law.”
Another problem on Racha Yai is the discharge of untreated sewage by some resorts on the island. Kasem Sukwaree, Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Phuket (DNRE), said, “On Monday we will collect effluvia samples to check the BOD [biochemical oxygen demand] value.
“Once we have precise values, then we can talk to the resorts that are discharging the waste water about installing sewage treatment systems.”