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Closing Bays for Seagrass Recovery

07-Dec-2006

The restriction includes 3 squared kilometers (2000 rai) of the bay for seagrass conservation. The one year regulation will allow for the recovery of food source for dugongs and multiple other marin...

The restriction includes 3 squared kilometers (2000 rai) of the bay for seagrass conservation. The one year regulation will allow for the recovery of food source for dugongs and multiple other marine species, starting this pass December 6.

Despite being 2 years since the tsunami disaster, the aftermath still prevails in the sea and its marks still remains at Ban Thungnangdum. In response, the villagers have attempted to restore the natural resources that were once there. Surat Akaraviroj, Chief of Kuraburi District, states that “this project, to set up buoys outlining the protected area, to conserve seagrass and marine animals is a significant stepping stone. The area is not only important to local livelihoods, but is also rich in diversity. Therefore, following the tsunami, we feel it was necessary to recover this area to its original state if not better, thus temporarily closing the bay was essential. Additionally, awareness needs to be built, on waste and pollution management, because if sustainable income is desired, then sustainable development needs to occur simultaneously.”

Pimsanit Suksard,  Head of the Environment Protection of Marine and Coastal Resources Group, Ban Tungnangdum, comments on this significant initiative. “Usually, Thungnangdum villagers will hunt far from the coast, so that the bay, which has been closed, can be a breeding and feeding area for marine animals.”

If commercial and outside fishery continue to seek benefits from resources along the coast and uses equipment that threatens seagrass and marine animals, many protected species, whether the dugong or sea turtles could be lost forever. Therefore, the Environment Protection of Marine and Coastal Resources Group, Ban Tungnangdum, has acknowledged this danger and has set up a meeting with all village representatives. As a result, the announcement to close the bay and set restrictions in order to conserve the site has taken place.”

 “In the beginning we had to push the other fishermen out by setting out buoys that marked the protected area. If unknown fishermen were found in the area, it would be considered trespassing or if any fishing activities were to occur, it would be considered against the law, and would be handled by the Coastal police. In the timeframe of a year that this restriction will be enforced, there will be surveys on how seagrass, marine animals and fishermen are affected by this action, so that further participatory management can take place,” Pimsanit adds.

Sompoj Nimsunticharoen, Head of the Coastal Resource Research Station, Ranong, refers to
the importance of seagrass, “there are 9 species of seagrass found in Ao Thungnangdum, which is also a feeding and nesting area. The tsunami had caused a shift in the land as well as seagrass colonies, thus causing the sand dunes and sediment to envelope the seagrass along the bay. More than half of the seagrass was  covered. When diving, we found no signs of life because this natural habitat had obviously been destroyed. Thungnangdum area was hit pretty severely, but what is worrisome is the increase in fishery boats, increasing by three folds, received through donations, resulting in more coastal resources usage. Therefore, this area is protected so that there is sustainability between resources and human needs for both present and future communities.”

To conclude, Janaka De Silva, Green Coast Coordinator and supporter says “Thailand is one of many countries that we support in recovery of natural resources and livelihoods affected by the tsunami. Placing buoys to declare the protected area in Ao Thungnangdum is a project that has been initiated from the actual needs and by actual locals within the community. There has also been dedicated cooperation from the government sector, from both administrative and environmental departments, as well as local NGOs. Through such commitment, we feel that sustainability will be reached through this project.”

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