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Pollution

Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags

Maya Taylor

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Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags | Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

In what some may see as a baffling contradiction, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha promised to protect marine life, while simultaneously rejecting an increasing number of calls for a ban on single-use plastic bags.

Following the death of Marium, a young dugong who had ingested plastic waste, the PM says he has ordered the agencies concerned to take more measures to protect sea life.

Of particular concern to the PM is the fate of another young dugong.

“Yamil must not die”.

The PM says the use of some plastic will be banned by 2022, including single-use plastic bags, but insists the issue is not solely the government’s responsibility.

“Everyone has a duty to help reduce plastic waste. It is unfair and pointless to blame the government when sea animals die due to marine waste. This issue is everyone’s responsibility,” he maintains.

A conservation plan known as the “Marium Project” has been approved by the cabinet, along with a number of other proposals to protect marine life, specifically dugongs.

Among them is a plan to create more dugong conservation areas such as Koh Libong in Trang province, where Marium was looked after. The chosen sites should have beaches rich in sea-grass, a preferred food source for the dugong.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Environment

Hydro-solar hybrid electric dam project nears completion

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Hydro-solar hybrid electric dam project nears completion | Thaiger
PHOTO: over 144,000 solar panels make up the floating hydro-solar project.

One of the biggest hydro-solar hybrid floating electricity projects in the world is nearing completion at Sirindhorn dam in Ubon Ratchathani. This installation will move Thailand away from its often criticised fossil fuel dependence by increasing renewable energy production in the country. 7 solar farms have been built over 300 acres using 144,417 solar panels. The platforms are expected to produce 45 megawatts of electricity.

The Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand is the government organisation overseeing the project and has been constructing the platforms since November. This initial program is set to be copied at 8 more dam locations across the country with a 16-year timeframe. The 9 hydro-solar hybrid farms are expected to achieve a total capacity of around 2,725 megawatts of electricity according to the project head.

Opposition has been steadily growing for Thailand’s reliance on coal power, and in 2018 plans for 2 coal plants in the south of the country were cancelled due to complaints about environmental and health concerns. So this revised Power Development Plan set the goal of 35% of Thailand’s energy to be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2037.

The hybrid facility is designed to generate non-stop power by an Energy Management System that can determine what method will generate the most electricity, switching between hydropower and solar power generation.

Some opposition exists for these hydro-solar hybrid electricity farms though. The director of Energy and Ecology Network, a non-government group in Bangkok, says that while they support renewable energy expansion over traditional fossil fuels, this project may be wastefully creating an energy surplus. EGAT had said that their current power reserves of about 40% of total capacity are driving up electricity prices, and they plan to cut the reserves to only 15%. This new power generated by the hydro-solar hybrid floating projects may be without a storage home, increasing costs even more to handle the excess capacity. The EEN director observed that investing in green energy is good, but needs to be done with consideration of electricity demand.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Environment

Survey underway as experts attempt to save James Bond island from erosion

Maya Taylor

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Survey underway as experts attempt to save James Bond island from erosion | Thaiger
PHOTO: Michaela Loheit on Flickr

Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working with other environmental departments to determine how best to save a popular tourist attraction. Khao Ta Pu, commonly known as James Bond island, in the southern province of Phang Nga, is at risk of collapse, due to seawater erosion. The ministry is working with counterparts in the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, in efforts to save the islet.

The natural marine park landmark, a chunk of 20-metre high limestone, got its nickname after featuring in the James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, in 1974. It is part of Ao Phang Nga National Park. The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Varawut Silpa-archa, says efforts are underway to determine the extent of seawater erosion.

“The ministry is working with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to survey the islet and surrounding areas to find ways to prevent erosion that might cause it to collapse. We are adapting the techniques used in surveying damage of limestone at Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park in Surat Thani province and at the Pun Yod Rock Castle in Satun province.”

Varawut is hopeful the islet’s foundation can be strengthened without impacting its natural beauty.

“A 3D scanner, marine seismic scanner, and echo sounder have been deployed to gather necessary information. Preliminary estimation suggests that we can reinforce the islet’s foundation without jeopardising the scenery. Furthermore, we are establishing a monitoring programme with cooperation from local communities to track changes of weather and marine conditions in the area that might affect the landmark.”

Last October, a large chunk broke off Koh Mae Urai, near Phi Phi island in the southern province of Krabi. The huge piece broke off in 2 sections, estimated to weigh around 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes, and collapsed onto a coral reef popular with scuba divers.

SOURCE: Inquirer.net

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Environment

Environmentalists criticise Netflix fishing doco for inaccuracies and misinformation

Maya Taylor

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Environmentalists criticise Netflix fishing doco for inaccuracies and misinformation | Thaiger
PHOTO: Alex Berger / Flickr

As Thailand accuses a Netflix documentary of using outdated and inaccurate information about the country’s fishing industry, a number of global environmental experts are echoing similar criticisms. According to a report in Coconuts, Seaspiracy has been slammed for being full of inaccuracies and twisting the science behind the damage to the world’s oceans, minimising the role of climate change and plastic pollution.

Brian Kahn, a journalist with an MA in Climate and Society, has written a piece called, Don’t Watch Netflix’s Seaspiracy, in which he also accuses the documentary of resorting to racial stereotypes.

“The bad guys are Asians, specifically Japanese whale and dolphin hunters and Chinese consumers of shark fin soup. The good guys – in this case, the experts he cites – are mostly white.”

According to the Coconuts report, the Marine Stewardship Council in London agrees the documentary contains “several inaccuracies” and the Plastic Pollution Coalition says the makers have “cherry-picked” quotes that will fit with their narrative. Marine biology magazine, Hakai, has also weighed in on the matter.

“Though the film misleads viewers with oversimplified science, its real harm is that it ignores the history, culture, and systemic inequities that are entwined with ocean conservation.”

Seaspiracy had its global release last month and has become one of the top 10 most-watched offerings on the Netflix streaming service. Opinion is divided, with many praising British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi for highlighting the issues with the global fishing industry, while others have slammed it for being biased and scientifically inaccurate.

The Royal Thai Navy has also criticised its portrayal of the country’s fishing industry, claiming it’s based on outdated information. In 2015, reporter Thapanee Eadsrichai exposed the significant role human trafficking and slavery played in the industry. This led to a crackdown of sorts, although slavery is still suspected of playing a role, on a smaller scale. The EU then threatened to ban all Thai seafood when the Kingdom’s illegal fishing practices came to light, but backed down when Thailand took steps to rectify the situation.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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