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Restore Seagrass - Recover livelihoods: Thailand experience

18-Mar-2007

On first appearances, ‘Sea grass areas’ may not be as beautiful or have as much economic value compared to the beauty of coral reef biodiversity attracting tourism or the same benefits ga...

On first appearances, ‘Sea grass areas’ may not be as beautiful or have as much economic value compared to the beauty of coral reef biodiversity attracting tourism or the same benefits gained from mangrove forests. But fishing communities at Bann Koh Nok, Klong Chareong and Fai ta feel in totally different ways since the Tsunami.

Supat Budnoi, one of local fishermen who has been living there more than 20 years said ‘Before the disaster destroyed various things such as property and natural resource, communities relied on this seagrass area to make a living either as a main income or as a supplemental occupation. Collecting sea wing shells which are popular for consumption, horse crab king crab in some seasons; Fishing for species including Sea Bass and Cod which are quite common locally were the way of life. Since the Tsunami disaster, the giant wave’s enormous sediment covered a 10 km2 seagrass area. Since then the, the source of living has disappeared. Although 2 years has already passed, the previous seagrass has not recovered. The communities now have to fish in the further open sea which costs in time, money and more risk to personal safety’       

For these reasons, the fishing community of Moo 2 realized that they needed to restore the previous seagrass area to be abundant again by experimenting with removing the neighboring natural seagrass and replanting it where it previously existed.  They were supported by Tha Din Dang village’s community, the village neighboring the surviving seagrass area.

‘However, Sea grass restoration by this replanting experiment is only one method which can’t expect 100 % outcome.  We have to monitor the survival rate, growing and use by aquatic animals over time. It is very good to see communities consolidate and collaborate for their own local natural resources which is their family life supermarket.’ stated Kittipan Sabkoon, a marine biologist of WWF Thailand.     

These activities have been supported by the Green Coast project, a collaborative venture between IUCN, WWF and Wetlands International, which aims to recover natural resources and restore livelihoods for communities after the Tsunami.   Other projects Green Coast has supported include restoring the previous sea grass-nursery of aquatic animals, recovering coastal fishing areas and participatory sustainable use of natural resources planning.

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