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  1. #1
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    Phuket - Satun - Campaigns to protect coral reefs

    TOURISM / STARFISH BRING A NEW THREAT
    Campaigns to protect coral reefs planned in two regions

    APINYA WIPATAYOTIN

    Campaigns will be launched in southern and eastern provinces this year to promote public awareness of the need to protect Thailand's world-famous coral reefs, which face a serious threat of damage from tourism. Similar campaigns are being launched in 40 other countries to mark the International Year of the Reef 2008.

    Wannakiat Thubthimsang, director of Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), which comes under the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, said the campaign would focus on provinces which are home to coral reefs, such as Phuket, Satun and Chumphon.

    A major event is planned in Phuket in early May when a report on the latest condition of Thai coral reefs will be released.

    It would aim to create public awareness about how sustainable management could limit the tourism industry's impact on fragile marine resources, said Mr Wannakiat.

    The International Year of the Reef 2008 is sponsored by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), which is a partnership among governments, international and nongovernment organisations to preserve the coral reefs and the ecosystems worldwide.

    The ICRI, co-chaired by Mexico and the United States, will hold a meeting in Washington later this month to update the world's coral reef situation and plan protection for them.

    Mr Wannakiat said the overall condition of Thai coral reefs was good.

    He lauded diving operators for being more conscious about coral reef protection.

    However, some sites, particularly in Krabi province, were under a new threat from the growing population of crown-of-thorns starfish, a coral eater.

    Nipol Pongsuwan, a PMBC marine expert, said the starfish were also feeding on coral in Phuket and Satun waters.

    A squad of divers had been sent to collect the starfish from affected coral sites, he said.

    The divers have so far removed over 240 crown-of-thorns in a two-rai area near Panva cape in Phuket and over 60 around Koh Similan off Krabi.

    He said the crown-of-thorns population should ideally not exceed 10 for every six rai.

    ''Marine ecology in these areas is in crisis,'' the expert said, adding that a sharp increase in the crown-of-thorns population might be a result of a reduction in the Triton snail population, a key predator of starfish.

    Fishermen were known to catch the snails for sale as souvenirs due to their beautiful shells.

    A plankton boom in the sea also can lead to a rise in the starfish population, he said.

    Previous similar spreads of the crown-of-thorns starfish were seen in 1984 in Mu Koh Adang-Rawee off Satun, Koh Raja in Phuket and around Koh Phi Phi in Krabi.

    An outbreak also was recorded in 1995 in the Similan Islands.

    Bangkok Post

  2. #2
    I am in Jail

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    Most of the Phuket coral reefs are already long dead. However, this is a worthy campaign if it can result in saving the reefs offshore in the similan islands.

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