Department of Marine & Coastal Resources Update: Coral Restoration

Posted January 14th in Marine Conservation

Image: Khun Guy from Tong Tom Homestay speaks about developing new dive sites near Koh Tao

An interesting and well-attended meeting covering coral reef conservation and restoration was hosted on Koh Tao, featuring two keynote speakers; Khun Guy from Tong Tom Homestay, Sawi spoke about developing new dive sites and volunteer projects, whilst Dr. Pinsak Surasavadee, Deputy General Director of DMCR (Department of Marine & Coastal Resources) spoke about coral restoration efforts in Thailand.

Khun Guy went into detail about creating an underwater ‘highway’ of dive sites between Koh Tao and Chumphon on the mainland. He and his team of volunteers have already carried out extensive exploration of the area. Whilst much of the Gulf of Thailand is too deep for recreational divers, Khun Guy has identified a number of shallower regions between Koh Tao and the mainland, which can potentially be used as new dive sites. Exciting.

Proposed dive sites are in the 15-25M depth range. Most have been fished for decades by local fisherman, so are covered in nets and traps. Khun Guy hopes to coordinate with government institutions, to clean up and protect the new dive sites, separating fishing and diving zones and establishing a new marine park.

And as an interesting addition, the marine police have confiscated literally hundreds of illegal fishing boats which now sit rotting away. Khun Guy proposes that these can be sunk as artificial wrecks to add further interest for divers.

If you’re interested in finding out more, Khun Guy operates volunteer programs from his homestay in Sawi, Chumphon. See Tong Tom Marine Conservation Homestay.

Next up, Dr Pinsak from the DMCR spoke about coral restoration efforts in the Gulf of Thailand.

Work falls into to categories; Active and passive.

Active restoration work involves handling / moving living organisms such as corals. This work is currently on hold as the DMCR have to pass a new by-law governing active coral restoration. This is more complicated than it might appear as the DMCR has to reach agreements between several government institutions; fisheries / navy / shipping etc. A sub law will be submitted in February with Dr Pinsak hoping for a hearing in May.

In the meantime we’re permitted to undertake passive marine conservation / restoration efforts which don’t involve handling live organisms. This can include installing mooring buoys, underwater clean-ups, monitoring the coral reefs and aquatic life plus deploying hard substrates for corals to grown on.

Dr. Pinsak added that in this part of the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Tao and Samui archipelago), the biggest threat to the coral reefs is sedimentation. It’s difficult for corals to survive on the silty bed of the Gulf of Thailand. Adding hard substrates gives corals something to adhere to and keeps them away from the silty seabed. This is something we’ll certainly investigate.

Plus there was chatter amongst the crowd of a 130M long wreck being sunk as an artificial reef off Koh Tao. More news to follow.

Interested in getting involved? Coral reef restoration and marine conservation in Koh Tao.

Image: Dr. Pinsak from the DMCR addresses attendees from Koh Tao dive schools

 

Author

Haydon Smith

Haydon Smith

Partner and manager @ Simple Life Divers. PADI Master Instructor and DSAT Tec Deep with 20 years (and counting) in dive industry.

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