The team of 50 divers first collected trash from the sea around Koh Mai Thon in Rawai on Saturday (May 25) from 8am until 4pm. The following day, the team worked around Koh Hae, also in Rawai, from 8am until 3pm.
Nathawan Jamlongkard, Director of MNRE Phuket office, told The Phuket News today, “The clean-up was carried out under a project named ‘Protect Andaman’ which covers the six coastal provinces of the Andaman Sea – Phuket, Phang Nga, Ranong, Krabi, Satun and Trang.
“This year we received a budget for collecting trash from the sea in two areas: Koh Mai Thon and Koh Hae.
“The reason that we chose Koh Mai Thon and Koh Hae is because there is a lot of fishing in those areas and as a result, a lot of debris is found there,” Mr Nathawan said.
At the same time, divers require the water to be clear to be able to find trash, and these islands provide good visibility.
“Last year, we received a budget for collecting trash from the sea in four areas: Koh Mai Thon, Koh Racha, Patong Beach and Karon Beach.
“We do not have an exact schedule to carry out the work as we are relying on several factors. We have to receive the funds from the budget and we also have to rent boats, which are difficult to get hold of in the high season.
“Every diver that helps us does so without receiving anything in return. Many volunteers helped us last year and came again to help this year.
“Before we organise the activities, we send invitations to a group of diving volunteers which we have worked with in the past. We have a quota to support only 50 volunteers, so we do not advertise publicly as we don’t want to deny people who want to help,” Mr Nathawan explained.
“At Koh Mai Thon, we collected a total of 94kg of trash. The 50 divers who helped us were from the Phuket Diver Volunteer Network, Diving Association of Thailand, Buffalo group – which is a team of foreign divers – and Marine Police. The vast majority of the trash found was rope and pieces of fishing net.
“At Koh Hae, we collected a total of 136kg with the same divers that helped at Koh Mai Thon.
“We also found 16 kg of diving equipment at Koh Hae such as goggles, diving masks and snorkels.
“In addition, we also various other bits of trash at both Koh Mai Thon and Koh Hae such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles, glass fragments, rope, scrap metal, cans, PVC pipes, other fishing debris and rubber buoys,” Mr Nathawan said.