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Tour boats blamed for widespread reef damage

Tour boats blamed for widespread reef damage

TRANG: Had Chao Mai National Park in Trang Province says a sharp rise in tour boat activity during the Songkran holiday seriously damaged coral reefs, prompting the need to impose strict regulations to enable rehabilitation and prevent further damage.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 23 April 2019, 02:33PM

Damaged coral reef off Trang. Photo: Methee Muangkaew

Damaged coral reef off Trang. Photo: Methee Muangkaew

Park chief Narong Kong-iad confirmed that damage occurred in many locations, mostly around Koh Kradan after the island was overwhelmed by tourists.

The tourists were ferried to the island by big tour vessels and long-tailed boats. Large numbers of visitors made it difficult for park officials to supervise beach areas and underwater reefs.

The boats dropped their anchors which damaged the reefs. Some boats remained anchored while the tide was going out, which caused the bottom of some vessels to scrape against the reefs.

The park and state-run marine centre in Phuket are to demarcate areas away from the reefs where boats can moor. Tour operators are also instructed to strictly follow rules on boat mooring and feeding fish around the island.

The problem was brought to light by Facebook posts from users named Prug Udomkerd and Supaporn Prempree.

Messages appeared alongside photos of the reefs close to beaches on Koh Kradan, which showed extensive damage after the tourists had left.

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Somsak Panthumet, head of the professional tour guide club in Trang, said he and fellow tour operators and guides have discussed the problem. They plan to consult park authorities on ways to better manage and regulate visitors to the island.

The group also pledged cooperation in rehabilitating the damaged reefs which extend over 500 metres.

Similar destruction was also reported off the coast of nearby Koh Chuek.

Mr Somsak said tourist numbers to Koh Kradan far outstripped its capacity to handle them, particularly during long weekends and public holidays.


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Kurt | 25 April 2019 - 11:21:35

Tourists outstrip everything on Phuket, Similans, and small islands/water surroundings. All thai Authorities know long time that their infrastructures/environment can not co-op with it. But they pretend not to see it, as their religion is MONEY.They ignore sea bottom damage, water crisis as long there are financial benefits. 'Tomorrow' is not existing in their mind. It's today only

BenPendejo | 25 April 2019 - 10:37:05

Timo hit the nail on the head, and all the warnings of environmental degradation continuously fall on deaf ears. Instead, Thai officials and greedy locals just keep barreling forward on their march to ruin. This is a complete failure to recognize the unsustainable path that has been taken, and that continues to unfold in this once beautiful place. Nowhere has been spared by greed and overuse.

Timothy | 24 April 2019 - 08:46:34

Yup, the greedy, selfish locals are moving on to destroy the next beautiful island. They only care about money and themselves. What a wonderful Eco tourism destination Thailand is. Raw sewage in all waterways. Flowing into the sea. Garbage dumped everywhere you look. Coral reefs that took thousands of years to grow being destroyed by idiots. This is Hub of environmental mismanagement.  

Werni | 23 April 2019 - 21:41:58

These damages were not caused during the past Songkran, but over years of ignorant and reckless tour boat drivers throwing their anchors on the reef.

Kurt | 23 April 2019 - 16:06:16

Again a environment disaster. And what a dramatic show of incompetent thai officials who not able to handle this properly. It is simple, Park Officials should not let 'in' more boats than they can handle/control/oversee Law/regulations enforcement wise. Start up a daily boat quote. Let tour boats get a entry clearance ticket in advance, yes/no. Full is full, like a restaurant or cinema.

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