The move follows Nalinee Thongtham, an officer at the DMCR’s Phuket Marine Biological Center, posting photos of the boat and of the damaged corals on her Facebook page.
The DMCR posted Ms Nalinee’s report on its own official Facebook page earlier today (Dec 18), and “condemned” the incident.
Ms Nalinee posted on Tuesday (Dec 15) that a boat came and dropped anchor on the protected coral reef, ignoring buoys installed by officers to prevent access to the area.
The boat, with the moniker ’Offspray’ clearly marked on its side, had tourists on board, Ms Nalinee noted.
Ms Nalinee also said the boat had dropped anchor on the corals “again”, but did not elaborate.
“The area is shallow, and the water is so clear that they can see the corals underneath,” she said.
“The damaged corals are those that we [DMCR officers] and some volunteers are together trying to help recover after most of the corals in the area became bleached and died,” Ms Nalinee explained.
“We have looked after them since they were smaller than a little finger and then moved them to the [protected] area. It took at least four years for the corals to be this good and fill the area,” she added.
“However, the selfish boat operator took only a few seconds to damage them,” Ms Nalinee said.
“When will these people be punished legally and socially for what they do? We have evidence and witnesses, relevant officers please take action on this case,” Ms Nalinee urged.
“Nature is recovering, mindless people will be punished,” she concluded.
DMCR Director-General Sophon Thongdee yesterday (Dec 17) confirmed that dropping anchor in protected coral reef areas is a breach of the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019), as corals are on the list of protected wildlife under the act.
“Damaging by touching or bending the corals is considered an offense,” Mr Sophon said.
“From the wrongdoing of the boat captain and tourists, I will discuss with the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation whether he will charge the people by themselves, as the area is under their responsibility,” Mr Sophon said.