World-renowned reefs, fish destroyed by dynamite

KRABI: The diving community along the Andaman coast is in an uproar after fishermen used dynamite to blast fish around the famed coral reefs at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, destroying both the reefs and the marine life around them. Both sites are underwater mountains in Koh Lanta National Park. Hin Daeng, which has a peak that pokes above the surface at low tide, was well known for its red-colored coral. Hin Muang was renowned for its purple coral. Patrick Catellani, the manager of Kon-Tiki Diving & Snorkeling Center, told the Gazette, “Every time for the past two weeks, our boats have come back with reports of boats fishing illegally in protected areas, using dynamite. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang have been destroyed by bombing. There are no fish left alive. And the coral is completely gone.” Yann Guillet, a divemaster with Kon-Tiki, discovered some bombs that didn’t detonate. “I found some packages of dynamite that didn’t blow up. We pulled them out of the water and found that three of them had dynamite inside. “Our captain radioed the Marine Police and told them what we’d found, but since then nothing has happened,” he added. Prasit Phuchatwanitkul, Koh Lanta’s District Chief, told the Gazette, “We have contacted the Chief of Koh Lanta National Park and asked him to hurry up and find the people responsible for the bombing. “I’ve asked tourists and dive operators to help by keeping an eye on the area because there aren’t enough officers at the national park, and Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are very far away [from the mainland].” Both sites are about 40 kilometers from Koh Lanta, where the national park officers are stationed. “We don’t have enough men to tackle this by ourselves, but we have asked the navy for help and this [incident] has already been reported to the Royal Forestry Department and the Department of Fisheries,” he said. K. Prasit added that the perpetrators are believed to be one of two groups: the first is from outside Krabi, while the other is a group of local fishermen. “So far we don’t know who exactly did it or why,” he said. “I think they wanted to get the fish to sell, but by using bombs they have destroyed all the fish and all the coral as well.” Subin Chayaburakul, Chairman of the Krabi Tourism Association, said, “The bombings at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang have greatly affected Krabi’s tourism. These were the most beautiful diving spots in the world. “National park officers should pay more attention to protecting our environment. We want to present a beautiful, quiet environment to our visitors.”

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