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Phuket tourists, divers to be warned off damaged coral zone



PHUKET: The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) will install floating signs to warn tourists and local divers not to disturb coral that is undergoing restoration after suffering extensive damage at a seawalking site off Phuket.

The site includes more than 300 square meters of coral off Khai Nai Island that was allegedly destroyed by a seawalking tour company (story here).

In response, the Phuket DMCR office launched a coral restoration project earlier this month led by marine officers and volunteer divers (story here).

“We expect the signs to be ready by the end of June. They will be branded as issued by the DMCR and will warn visitors in Thai and English to keep out of the the area as coral restoration is in process,” Somying Phuangprasan, a Fishery Specialist at the DMCR, told the Phuket Gazette.

“The DMCR cannot instigate legal action against any persons found entering the area. However, we would like to ask for your cooperation to comply,” Ms Somying said.

DMCR officers will regularly return to the area to monitor any visitors or commercial activities that may continue, she added.

“Normally, DMCR officials check the area every 10 days, but with the current weather causing strong winds and big waves, these visits may be less frequent,” Ms Somying said.

Jakrit Janjit, Registrar of the Bureau of Tourism Business and Guide Registration Phuket office said Koh Yao Police were still investigating the complaint filed by the DMCR against the seawalking tour company for the alleged destruction of coral.

DMCR officer Somnuek Boonyai told the Gazette there has been no significant progress in the case, despite the Koh Yao Police issuing a summons for the captain of the Sea Lion and his crew to present themselves for questioning on May 14.

The Sea Lion was present at the seawalking site on May 14, when DMCR officers arrived to carry out their coral restoration project (story here).

“But none of them showed up, so the police are planning to issue a second summons,” Mr Somneuk added.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong


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