Coral reef bombers still at large

KOH LANTA: The coral on two undersea mountain reefs, blasted more than a year ago by fishermen using illegal explosives, has grown back and marine life has returned, authorities say. But the vessels that inflicted the damage have not been identified despite photographic evidence showing at least one boat in the area at the time. The diving community along the Andaman Coast was aghast in December 2001 when fishermen bombed the popular coral reefs at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, underwater mountain peaks in Koh Lanta National Park. Hin Daeng, which pokes above the surface at low tide, was well known for its red-colored coral. Hin Muang was renowned for its purple coral. Koh Lanta’s District Chief, Prasit Phuchatwanitkul, told the Gazette that he went diving there recently to pick up garbage left by divers. “I also surveyed the marine life,” he said. “We found many kinds of stingrays, soft coral and even whales. There are plenty of resources underwater.” Fishermen from Phuket and Satun were initially accused of the crime but there were no witnesses. Police arrested two men who admitted to using explosives to catch fish, but not in the national park. Patrols in the region have been increased but anyone spotting suspicious behavior is asked to call Koh Lanta District Office at 075-620836.

Phuket News
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