Connect with us


Special Report: Andaman trash takes toll on local marine life

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Enormous amounts of trash and discarded fishing nets continue to wreak havoc on the regions marine life with 2 dolphins and 1 turtle being rescued this month alone, despite raised awareness on the issue, said Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, head of the endangered species unit at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC).

“Compared to last year, the number of reported animals being washed ashore has increased about five per cent,” said Dr Kongkiat. “For the last 10 years, the numbers have steadily increased by about three to five per cent each year.”

The entire Andaman region has seen an estimated 300 protected animals washed up on its shores in the past year, with Phuket yielding about half of the total.

Out of the 150 cases on Phuket, about 100 were turtles, 40 were dolphins and 10 were manatee or whale sharks.


“Discarded fishing nets and the enormous amount of rubbish being thrown into the ocean is the leading cause of injuries for these beautiful marine animals,” Dr Kongkiat explained. “Many animals mistake plastic bags as jelly fish or accidentally consume other rubbish, which eventually leads to serious infections and debilitating illnesses. Additionally, we regularly see damage from fishing nets on certain protected marine creatures, such as turtles.”

According to research undertaken by PMBC’s Hirun Kanghae, between December 2014 and September 2015, more than 150 kilograms of trash washed ashore at Koh Lon, off Rawai.

“We chose to conduct our research on the beaches of Koh Lon and Mitraphap Beach because they are not visited by tourists and the beach is not regularly cleaned by the Rawai Municipality. This allows us to collect more accurate data on how much trash is washing up from the Andaman,” Mr Hirun said.

“Though Koh Lon is east of Phuket, it is still representative of the western beaches. We know that a similar amount of trash is washing up on the shores of Kata, Karon and Patong. However, these areas are cleaned in the morning by the municipalities.”

Most of the 150 kilograms of trash collected were hard plastics, Mr Hirun confirmed.

After a full year of research is completed, Mr Hirun plans to present his results at a number of workshops to educate locals, tour guides and fisherman in order to show them how their daily lives are affecting marine life.

“Trash control is our biggest challenge right now. We have talked to the media many times to educate the public, and asked for cooperation from fishermen, tourists and tour business operators to help with waste management,” Dr Kongkiat said.

Tour groups are one of the biggest producers of trash found in Phuket’s waters, explained Santi Pawai, director of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MOTS) Phuket Office.

“I have informed tour operators many times to keep all of their trash on the boat, as well as collect any trash they find floating in the sea,” he said last week.

Mr Santi also noted that MOTS is planning to work with the Andaman Tourism Association and local tour business operators to start a trash collecting campaign on Phuket and Koh Hei.

“We have yet to decided on the details of the project, but expect it to begin before high season.”

Meanwhile, Nikorn Tormaitree, vice president of the Andaman Tourism Association admitted that some tourism activities are damaging the environment.

“We have been educating our members about this issue. Currently, there are about 900 members in Phuket comprising tour boat owners, tour guides and tour sales personnel,” he said.

“We understand that trash can destroy the sea and harm marine life. We will try our best to ensure waste is being properly disposed of.”

“We earn our living from the sea, and never want it to be polluted.”


The president of the local fishermen association pointed out that they too were completely reliant on healthy ocean conditions for their livelihoods.

“The sea is our food, our career. There is no reason for us to destroy it with discarded nets and trash. In fact, fishermen not only fish, but help collect trash too,” said Somyos Wongbunyakul, president of the Phuket Fishermen Association.

Despite Mr Somyos explaining that the price of broken fishing net has risen to 10 baht per kilogram, giving incentive for fishermen to collect damaged nets, Dr Kongkiat remained firm in his position that discarded fishing nets were a leading cause of injuries to turtles and other marine life.

“I will inform the fishermen to be more careful about broken pieces of net and to collect any broken pieces that are stuck on rocks,” Mr Somyos conceded.

However, Edwin Wiek, founder and director of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, said that it’s not pieces of broken netting that are main issue, but the type of netting and fishing practices being used.

“Another serious issue is that, although illegal, many boats still use dragnets, where some marine mammals and turtles get stuck in and drown.

“Better enforcement by the fishery department and marine police is needed, their budget on patrolling and enforcement needs to be increased,” Mr Wiek said.


The increase in reports of marine animals being injured, however, might not be a sign of more creatures being hurt, explained Dr Kongkiat.

“The increasing number of reports does not necessarily mean that the animals are having more problems. I believe part of the increase is due to the amount of people who are now willing to call in an injured animal to our workers,” Dr Kongkiat said.

The PMBC has built a strong network with the Kusoldharm Rescue Foundation, as well as many local volunteers.

“The first thing we do when we get a call about an injured animal is to check with the Kusoldharm Foundation and other people in our network to see if they are closer to the incident than we are,” said Dr Patcharaporn Gaewmong, a PMBC veterinarian.

“Immediate on-site rescue measures are extremely important. Therefore, we have educated everyone in our network to help each animal properly.”


Because of the vast amount of time needed to treat the marine animals, the expenditures of the PMBC per rescue swing wildly.

“Expenses vary from case to case. On average, we spend about 20,000 baht per turtle. However, some cases may only take a few thousand baht, while serious cases can take up to 40,000 baht,” Dr Patcharaporn said.

“Dolphins are more difficult to cure. They generally have a disease that causes them to be expelled from their pod. Usually, they then start swimming closer to shore, where they are more likely to eat trash and get even sicker.”

Only 20 to 30 per cent of the dolphins reported to the PMBC are found alive.

Rescue efforts for a dolphin case can cost up to 50,000 baht, as transferring costs are higher and often freelance staff must be hired to care for the dolphin overnight.

“We get a total of 800,000 baht per year from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to support our rescue efforts,” Dr Patcharaporn said.

Dr Kongkiat confirmed that the current funding was enough for them to continue their rescue efforts without financial hindrances, but that didn’t guarantee their ability to save the animals.

“The reason that we cannot save so many injured animals is because the animals are very sick and severely injured by the time we get to them. We need to take preventative action,” Dr Kongkiat said.


The number one step toward preventing accidental deaths of marine life is to stop sea dumping and begin cleaning out the vast amounts of rubbish already filling the Andaman, Dr Kongkiat explained.

“Yes, those operating in the fishing industry and marine tourism industry are aware of the increasing affects that the amount of refuge being dumped into the Andaman has had on marine life. They are now taking some responsibility for it – they are doing their best to help. However, they are not the only ones who use the ocean.

“Other stakeholders must also step up to make a difference, otherwise we will never see results.”

Tourists, locals and expats – of all walks of life – must stop sea littering and encourage others to also end this incredibly damaging practice, Dr Kongkiat said.

“We must continue to educate the public so that we can clean up the ocean and eventually start seeing less marine animals, such as dolphins and sea turtles, become victims of human carelessness.”

— Kongleaphy Keam


Get more from The Thaiger

Looking for your next home in Thailand? Let us match you with a local expert in minutes!

Thank you for your interest!

One of our agents will
reach out to you soon.

I want to:
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • United States+1
  • United Kingdom+44
  • Australia+61
  • Afghanistan (‫افغانستان‬‎)+93
  • Albania (Shqipëri)+355
  • Algeria (‫الجزائر‬‎)+213
  • American Samoa+1684
  • Andorra+376
  • Angola+244
  • Anguilla+1264
  • Antigua and Barbuda+1268
  • Argentina+54
  • Armenia (Հայաստան)+374
  • Aruba+297
  • Australia+61
  • Austria (Österreich)+43
  • Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan)+994
  • Bahamas+1242
  • Bahrain (‫البحرين‬‎)+973
  • Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ)+880
  • Barbados+1246
  • Belarus (Беларусь)+375
  • Belgium (België)+32
  • Belize+501
  • Benin (Bénin)+229
  • Bermuda+1441
  • Bhutan (འབྲུག)+975
  • Bolivia+591
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Босна и Херцеговина)+387
  • Botswana+267
  • Brazil (Brasil)+55
  • British Indian Ocean Territory+246
  • British Virgin Islands+1284
  • Brunei+673
  • Bulgaria (България)+359
  • Burkina Faso+226
  • Burundi (Uburundi)+257
  • Cambodia (កម្ពុជា)+855
  • Cameroon (Cameroun)+237
  • Canada+1
  • Cape Verde (Kabu Verdi)+238
  • Caribbean Netherlands+599
  • Cayman Islands+1345
  • Central African Republic (République centrafricaine)+236
  • Chad (Tchad)+235
  • Chile+56
  • China (中国)+86
  • Christmas Island+61
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands+61
  • Colombia+57
  • Comoros (‫جزر القمر‬‎)+269
  • Congo (DRC) (Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo)+243
  • Congo (Republic) (Congo-Brazzaville)+242
  • Cook Islands+682
  • Costa Rica+506
  • Côte d’Ivoire+225
  • Croatia (Hrvatska)+385
  • Cuba+53
  • Curaçao+599
  • Cyprus (Κύπρος)+357
  • Czech Republic (Česká republika)+420
  • Denmark (Danmark)+45
  • Djibouti+253
  • Dominica+1767
  • Dominican Republic (República Dominicana)+1
  • Ecuador+593
  • Egypt (‫مصر‬‎)+20
  • El Salvador+503
  • Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial)+240
  • Eritrea+291
  • Estonia (Eesti)+372
  • Ethiopia+251
  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)+500
  • Faroe Islands (Føroyar)+298
  • Fiji+679
  • Finland (Suomi)+358
  • France+33
  • French Guiana (Guyane française)+594
  • French Polynesia (Polynésie française)+689
  • Gabon+241
  • Gambia+220
  • Georgia (საქართველო)+995
  • Germany (Deutschland)+49
  • Ghana (Gaana)+233
  • Gibraltar+350
  • Greece (Ελλάδα)+30
  • Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat)+299
  • Grenada+1473
  • Guadeloupe+590
  • Guam+1671
  • Guatemala+502
  • Guernsey+44
  • Guinea (Guinée)+224
  • Guinea-Bissau (Guiné Bissau)+245
  • Guyana+592
  • Haiti+509
  • Honduras+504
  • Hong Kong (香港)+852
  • Hungary (Magyarország)+36
  • Iceland (Ísland)+354
  • India (भारत)+91
  • Indonesia+62
  • Iran (‫ایران‬‎)+98
  • Iraq (‫العراق‬‎)+964
  • Ireland+353
  • Isle of Man+44
  • Israel (‫ישראל‬‎)+972
  • Italy (Italia)+39
  • Jamaica+1
  • Japan (日本)+81
  • Jersey+44
  • Jordan (‫الأردن‬‎)+962
  • Kazakhstan (Казахстан)+7
  • Kenya+254
  • Kiribati+686
  • Kosovo+383
  • Kuwait (‫الكويت‬‎)+965
  • Kyrgyzstan (Кыргызстан)+996
  • Laos (ລາວ)+856
  • Latvia (Latvija)+371
  • Lebanon (‫لبنان‬‎)+961
  • Lesotho+266
  • Liberia+231
  • Libya (‫ليبيا‬‎)+218
  • Liechtenstein+423
  • Lithuania (Lietuva)+370
  • Luxembourg+352
  • Macau (澳門)+853
  • Macedonia (FYROM) (Македонија)+389
  • Madagascar (Madagasikara)+261
  • Malawi+265
  • Malaysia+60
  • Maldives+960
  • Mali+223
  • Malta+356
  • Marshall Islands+692
  • Martinique+596
  • Mauritania (‫موريتانيا‬‎)+222
  • Mauritius (Moris)+230
  • Mayotte+262
  • Mexico (México)+52
  • Micronesia+691
  • Moldova (Republica Moldova)+373
  • Monaco+377
  • Mongolia (Монгол)+976
  • Montenegro (Crna Gora)+382
  • Montserrat+1664
  • Morocco (‫المغرب‬‎)+212
  • Mozambique (Moçambique)+258
  • Myanmar (Burma) (မြန်မာ)+95
  • Namibia (Namibië)+264
  • Nauru+674
  • Nepal (नेपाल)+977
  • Netherlands (Nederland)+31
  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie)+687
  • New Zealand+64
  • Nicaragua+505
  • Niger (Nijar)+227
  • Nigeria+234
  • Niue+683
  • Norfolk Island+672
  • North Korea (조선 민주주의 인민 공화국)+850
  • Northern Mariana Islands+1670
  • Norway (Norge)+47
  • Oman (‫عُمان‬‎)+968
  • Pakistan (‫پاکستان‬‎)+92
  • Palau+680
  • Palestine (‫فلسطين‬‎)+970
  • Panama (Panamá)+507
  • Papua New Guinea+675
  • Paraguay+595
  • Peru (Perú)+51
  • Philippines+63
  • Poland (Polska)+48
  • Portugal+351
  • Puerto Rico+1
  • Qatar (‫قطر‬‎)+974
  • Réunion (La Réunion)+262
  • Romania (România)+40
  • Russia (Россия)+7
  • Rwanda+250
  • Saint Barthélemy+590
  • Saint Helena+290
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis+1869
  • Saint Lucia+1758
  • Saint Martin (Saint-Martin (partie française))+590
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon)+508
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines+1784
  • Samoa+685
  • San Marino+378
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (São Tomé e Príncipe)+239
  • Saudi Arabia (‫المملكة العربية السعودية‬‎)+966
  • Senegal (Sénégal)+221
  • Serbia (Србија)+381
  • Seychelles+248
  • Sierra Leone+232
  • Singapore+65
  • Sint Maarten+1721
  • Slovakia (Slovensko)+421
  • Slovenia (Slovenija)+386
  • Solomon Islands+677
  • Somalia (Soomaaliya)+252
  • South Africa+27
  • South Korea (대한민국)+82
  • South Sudan (‫جنوب السودان‬‎)+211
  • Spain (España)+34
  • Sri Lanka (ශ්‍රී ලංකාව)+94
  • Sudan (‫السودان‬‎)+249
  • Suriname+597
  • Svalbard and Jan Mayen+47
  • Swaziland+268
  • Sweden (Sverige)+46
  • Switzerland (Schweiz)+41
  • Syria (‫سوريا‬‎)+963
  • Taiwan (台灣)+886
  • Tajikistan+992
  • Tanzania+255
  • Thailand (ไทย)+66
  • Timor-Leste+670
  • Togo+228
  • Tokelau+690
  • Tonga+676
  • Trinidad and Tobago+1868
  • Tunisia (‫تونس‬‎)+216
  • Turkey (Türkiye)+90
  • Turkmenistan+993
  • Turks and Caicos Islands+1649
  • Tuvalu+688
  • U.S. Virgin Islands+1340
  • Uganda+256
  • Ukraine (Україна)+380
  • United Arab Emirates (‫الإمارات العربية المتحدة‬‎)+971
  • United Kingdom+44
  • United States+1
  • Uruguay+598
  • Uzbekistan (Oʻzbekiston)+998
  • Vanuatu+678
  • Vatican City (Città del Vaticano)+39
  • Venezuela+58
  • Vietnam (Việt Nam)+84
  • Wallis and Futuna (Wallis-et-Futuna)+681
  • Western Sahara (‫الصحراء الغربية‬‎)+212
  • Yemen (‫اليمن‬‎)+967
  • Zambia+260
  • Zimbabwe+263
  • Åland Islands+358

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Pattaya32 mins ago

Pattaya man taken to hospital after smoking cannabis

Bangkok2 hours ago

Bangkok governor invites public to ‘plant a million trees’

Tourism2 hours ago

Koh Pha Ngan ranked top workation location in the world

Sponsored2 days ago

The ultimate holiday destination at Four Points by Sheraton Phuket Patong Beach Resort

North East2 hours ago

Fight leads to fatal shooting in Northeast Thailand

Thailand3 hours ago

Judge Natty, Face Powder & Thai Commentary | Thaiger Bites

Tourism3 hours ago

Thousands of Laotian travellers arrive after Thail pass scrapped

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Politics4 hours ago

Goverment’s rough week: Minister with Covid-19, Parliament flood

Bangkok5 hours ago

Bangkok is best city in Southeast Asia according to travel mag

Tourism5 hours ago

Thailand tourism: 9.3 million arrivals predicted, south busy

Thailand6 hours ago

Thailand Tourism to Boom, is it Asia’s Amsterdam? | Weekend Update

Cannabis6 hours ago

Warning to Thai travellers: Don’t take cannabis to other countries

Myanmar6 hours ago

Burmese military bombs Karen village, kills 2

Weather7 hours ago

Tropical storm capsizes ship, 27 missing near Hong Kong

Phuket8 hours ago

Look out for Phuket’s Spider-Man ice cream seller

Tourism9 hours ago

Thai PM Prayut ‘positive’ about expected tourist influx

Thailand10 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11


By continuing to use our site you consent to the use of cookies as described in our privacy policy.