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Hands off Maya Bay

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Hands off Maya Bay | The Thaiger
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In one corner, marine scientists and biologists who are urging the government to keep Maya Bay closed as it struggles to rehabilitate following years of tourism abuse. In the other, local tour operators who say that the region’s main money-spinner has been taken away from them affecting their pockets and the many people they employ.

Meanwhile Maya Bay is slowly recovering without the visit of 5,000 tourists and boats every day.

Marine ecologists are asking the tourism sector to desist from pressuring authorities for an early reopening of the world-renowned Maya Bay to help ensure a proper rehabilitation process.

But local tour operators, affected by the closure, will meet tomorrow to discuss their next move as the peak tourism season draws near. The pressure on authorities to re-open the tourist magnet is intense.

On September 28, the National Parks Department issued an order for indefinite closure of Maya Bay in order to allow more time for damaged coral reefs to recover.

Experts say the four-month closure of Maya Bay was insufficient for rehabilitation due to the popular site’s fragile ecosystem.

Assistant Professor Datchanee Emphandhu of the Forestry Faculty of Kasetsart University, said Maya was like a seriously ill patient who needs more time to recover. Rushing to reopen the place would result in the likely collapse of its ecosystem.

“The damage could be irreversible.”

She was speaking in response to a call by tour companies in the area to reopen the destination once the tourism industry enters the high season later this year.

On September 28, an official announcement was made in the Royal Gazette about the indefinite closure of Maya Bay from October 1, after the previous closure order was supposed to end on September 30.

One of the world’s most-visited tourist destinations, made popular by the Hollywood movie “The Beach”, Maya Bay’s limited 30-rai (4.8 hectares) area, attracts about 5,000 tourists per day on average, or between 1.5-2 million visitors per year.

The National Parks Department, after holding consultations with its advisers and marine experts, said earlier that Maya Bay had been seriously environmentally degraded because of overcrowding.

The department has allowed boats to bring tourists to watch Maya only from a distance while officials work on rehabilitating the area and its fragile ecosystem, including the damaged coral reefs that need more time to regrow.

Marine ecologist, Sak-anan Plathong, from Prince of Songkla University, suggested that the department ensure protection of the fragile ecosystem at Maya Bay and prevent further disturbance to the fragile beach forests inside the nearby island.

“An elevated boardwalk over the fragile sand and forests should be built to help reduce pressure on the ecosystem. If there is going to be a reopening of the beach, it should be delayed beyond the high tourist season, maybe a month or two after the season.”

“In addition, the beach should be given one or two days’ break per week to allow natural replenishment of sand on the beach.”

The number of visitors, he added, should also be restricted.

Assistant Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat posted on Facebook that the front of the bay should be off limits forever to allow corals to rehabilitate and regrow otherwise all the efforts invested now would become useless.

National Parks Office chief Songtham Suksawang said the department wishes to see the bay’s ecosystem fully rehabilitated before it decides to reopen the bay to tourists again.\

The department is in the process of procuring projects to build a boardwalk and a new floating pier at the back of the island so that coral reefs at the front of the beach will not be disturbed. The department has also commissioned four universities to conduct research on the appropriate number of tourists who should be allowed to visit six popular beach destinations in Thailand: Samet islands in Rayong province; Surin, Similan and Tapoo islands in Phang Nga province; Chang island in Trat province; and Lanta island in Krabi.

Hands off Maya Bay | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Environment

Large “chunk” breaks off Krabi island, damaging coral reef at popular dive site

Caitlin Ashworth

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Large “chunk” breaks off Krabi island, damaging coral reef at popular dive site | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau

A large chunk of an island near Koh Phi Phi in southern Thailand has broken off and collapsed on top of a coral reef at a popular dive site. No one was around when the cliffsides sheered off and collapsed into the sea, but national park officers on a routine patrol noticed a section of the island had broken off and saw two large sections of rock above the water.

There has been considerable rain in the region over the past 2 months.

A section of Koh Mae Urai, located between Koh Phi Phi and Krabi, broke off in 2 large pieces estimated to weigh around 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes. Divers headed down to examine the site to see how much damage has been done to the coral reef. The water has been murky, so it’s hard to tell how much damage was done, but Koh Phi Phi National Park chief, Prayoon Phongphan, says he thinks 20% of the coral around the island was damaged.

“At this stage, we do not know how much of the reef was damaged, but the reef is home to important coral, including staghorn coral, and was a popular dive site for tourists.”

Large

PHOTO: Wikipedia

Koh Mae Urai is a unique local dive spot with 2 tunnels lined with soft and hard corals, according to Lonely Planet. When the current isn’t too strong and the visibility is good, Koh Mae Urai is “the most beautiful dive site in the Ao Nang area with number soft coral as well as seahorses”, according to Krabi Magazine.

For now, the area around the island is closed off and boat operators are warned not to approach the site until marine officials can inspect the island’s structure and be sure of the safety for divers and visitors.

“Please be careful. Boat operators must not approach the site. It can be dangerous… Park officers will mark off the area with buoys with a sign clearly explaining no entry to the sealed-off area.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Crime

Man arrested for allegedly abusing stray cats at Koh Phi Phi hotels

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for allegedly abusing stray cats at Koh Phi Phi hotels | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Watchdog Thailand

Police have arrested a 30 year old man for allegedly catching stray cats and torturing them at various hotels in Koh Phi Phi following a heads-up from Watchdog Thailand Foundation. Hotel staff cleaning up the man’s rooms found blood, cat nails and fur in the rooms as well as in the refrigerator, according to police.

Chi Hang, from China, faces animal cruelty charges. In the past 2 weeks, Chi checked into 3 hotels on the island where he allegedly took stray cats to his room and tortured them, police say. The non-profit Watchdog Thailand Foundation caught wind of the alleged animal abuse and contacted the police.

Photos and videos allegedly from Chi’s phone show cats being abused and in distress. One video shows a cat with wet fur and a binder clips pinching its paws. A nail clipper was nearby. One photo shows a cat with its face stuck in a plastic water bottle. Watchdog shared photos of the injured cats on Facebook. One had red marks and missing fur around its neck.

Chin allegedly told police that he loves cats and took them into his hotel room to take care of them. Police say the man claims he put a cat in the refrigerator because he thought the cat was hot and needed to cool off. He told police if the cats bit him, he covered their heads with a plastic water bottle and he also clipped their claws because they were infected.

Chi, who entered Thailand in February and has not travelled back to China because of the pandemic, allegedly told police he is unware of Thailand’s animal abuse laws.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

สภ.เกาะพีพี ดำเนินคดีนักท่องเที่ยวชาวจีน พิลึก ! อ้างรักสัตว์และไม่รู้กฏหมายไทย #ดำเนินคดีท่องเที่ยวชาวจีน…

Posted by มูลนิธิวอชด็อก ไทยแลนด์ Watchdog Thailand – WDT on Friday, 16 October 2020

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Crime

2 inmates escape from Krabi prison

Caitlin Ashworth

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2 inmates escape from Krabi prison | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Matichon

Police are looking for 2 men who allegedly escaped from a prison in Krabi. The inmates allegedly cut an iron bar and exited through a window. The inmates were then able to climb over a barbed wire fence, using 3 blankets tied together as a rope for support.

Prison guards guess the men, 32 year old Arnon Denmad and 47 year old Monthon Kansaman, escaped sometime between 3am and 6am. The men were serving drug sentences at the Krabi prison. Reports do not say how much prison time the men had left or details about their crimes.

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage in the area as well as at local bus station to see if the men fled on a bus out of town. Investigators are also reviewing the list of visitors to see who spoke with the men over the last 2 weeks.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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