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Thailand Dive site Swamped by fishing nets.


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#1 ozanners

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 12:50 AM

The 2009-2010 season has just begun here on the West coast of Thailand and as always after the low season there is work to be done to clean up the damage caused by fisheries during the low season.

Thailand supposedly protects it's marine parks, unfortunately for various reason this is mostly ineffective. During the low season the parks are officially closed to tourists and the Rangers move out. This leaves the islands at the mercy of the fishing fleets of the west coast.

As Staff on one of the Liveaboards we get to see the aftermath of this unprotected period.

This normally is limited to cutting up any large fishing cages we find sitting anywhere and everywhere on the dive sites and releasing the fish inside.

Unfortunately this year, on top of the usual fish cages we found something far more damaging. Large areas of one of the more beautiful sites, Koh Tachai Plateau, were covered in a huge net. Corals and the fish that live amongst them had been covered in the net for a seemingly long period if time. Much of the coral that was tangled in the net has either been physically broken or has suffocated due to being covered in net blooming with algae.

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I have yet to see the site after the various clean ups and I am hoping that the efforts of the crew and customers of a few Similan diving companies have minimised the impact on the dive site.

Follow the link to see more images of our cleanup operation: www.arewedreaming.com

Thailand authorities need to realise the value of what they have and try to find a better way of protecting these marine parks. Please spread the word to help raise awareness of the problems the Similans face.

Thanks for reading,

Tom

Edited by ozanners, 03 November 2009 - 12:56 AM.


#2 Drew

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 01:54 AM

Tom, this happens ever so often. I've done a few similar cleanups on K. Tachai myself and it's usually the drift net draggers who go over the area and the net is too entangled that they dump the nets. Unfortunately, they sell the nets right back to the fishermen who repair and reuse it. The PDA organizes cleanups whenever a site is covered like that. There was work done with the park authorities, who sent a few divers out the last time I did one of these. They are aware of the problem but it's difficult to get the relevant people interested enough to put money into constant patrol presence. Their budget is pretty limited.

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#3 WaterWorks

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 02:05 AM

Tom, this happens ever so often. I've done a few similar cleanups on K. Tachai myself and it's usually the drift net draggers who go over the area and the net is too entangled that they dump the nets. Unfortunately, they sell the nets right back to the fishermen who repair and reuse it. The PDA organizes cleanups whenever a site is covered like that. There was work done with the park authorities, who sent a few divers out the last time I did one of these. They are aware of the problem but it's difficult to get the relevant people interested enough to put money into constant patrol presence. Their budget is pretty limited.


money is definitely one of the topics but the area "lacking sufficient amounts" is well off the facts.... for every diver in these national parks, 200THB is collected (or should be..... they seldom come round collecting it!) so the funds most certainly aren't lacking by any means.

1 - the big boats PAY the national parks TO FISH (the national park chief lets them in as he can now by his mistresses new cars - the funds that are collected as official payment need to go back into the system in order to pay for their infrastructure... money that is paid as a bribe goes straight into your pocket....)

2 - the national park chief doesn't understand his role or the rights that he has - just like any authority in Thailand

3 - the national park chief and staff don't see WHY they should stop the fishing boats (their philosophy is something like "there are more and more divers coming each year aren't there? so you're all wrong telling us that these boats / acts are destroying the diving industry - just another case of farang thinking they know more than us")

I could go on with a whole lot more facts but the bottom line is that this is Thailand - money talks, brains and visions are shortsighted and selfish.....

The dive industry has been thriving here for nearly 30 years - simultaneously so have the efforts to stop this kind of stupidity... but it still goes on - and so long as Thailand stays happy with it's own little undeveloped, selfish, mindset then it will continue to go on until we're all diving on "Hin's" as opposed to "Prakarang"

The only way to get the authorities to listen would be to boycott the industry..... but I don't see any of the dive shops volunteering to close for a season - for the exact same reasons that I don't see the national park ever getting their act together.... greeeeeeeeed...... the other option is to wait for Thailand to "develop" and then the rest will fall into place.... nets on coral are the least of any of the authorities concerns.... (usually, the government official's main concern is where he will get his next gold bracelet for his mistress.....)

shame on you, Thailand - again...... and again....... and again......... :blink:

#4 MikeVeitch

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 03:08 AM

what is that one strange looking dead creature? eel?

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#5 Drew

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 05:34 PM

Waterworks, that's what I meant. The budget on the patrol end is crap because it's strained away for other things. The issues are much broader but I do think it's fair to say that politics is much more complicated than just loading a patrol boat and keeping the fishermen out.
I can give you plenty examples of fisheries errors in the EU and North America. To say that the Thai have no idea of conservation methods is unfairly singling them out for what is a worldwide problem. Yes, tourism is an industry which can have a voice when enough tourists speak out. The upper echelons do pay heed although their actions would be much like what Eric had in response to his shark fin petition to California's political system, obsfucation and inaction.
Let's not single out any particular country with poor marine park and fisheries management. You'd hope that the Thai would see the issues in the rest of the world and learn from it. Resource management isn't just black and white, but balancing many things. I think Similan National Park is better than many other reefs in the Thai Andaman coast, and that's because they are protected. Could it be much better? Of course. But then the dive industry could also use much more eco-friendly methods to work in the area. Oh and also help educate the thai school system with regular visits to bring up marine biosystems etc.

Mike, I think it's an eel although at first glance, I thought it was an elephant trunk!

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#6 xariatay

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 11:30 PM

In this case, the rangers & managements of the marine parks are there to protect the reefs from the divers? Or collect the money from divers?
No divers = No protection needed (No protection $$ collected) = Can go for holiday (because can generate other source of income)? ;-)

Edited by xariatay, 04 November 2009 - 11:34 PM.

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#7 ozanners

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 10:04 PM

what is that one strange looking dead creature? eel?

It's a moray, it seems to have tried to feed on something in the net and swallowed a chunk of it that then got lodged in it's throat.

#8 ScubaSpen

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 04:00 AM

Alot of the problem is that all the national park money that is paid by divers goes into a pot and is distributed evenly to all the national parks in Thailand, about 180 through the whole kingdom. So even though Similan's pulls in alot of cash, it doesen't get to keep it all.

Also after discussions I have had with the Marine and coastal resources dept about this exact problem they told me the best method is to take pics of these boats who are fishing in the national parks and send them to the papers like the Bangkok post so they can highlight the problem in the media.

Another problem they have is that there are constant management changes and transfers, so things never get done.

Spen