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Opinion: Set a baseline for Phuket’s reef research

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Southeast Asia’s reefs are next on the list for “street view” mapping, Richard Vevers, executive director of the Catlin Seaview Survey and CEO of Underwater Earth, told Sci-Tech Today earlier this month.

The Phuket dive community, and industry, must push for the Similans and our other reefs to be at the top of the list when the surveyors arrive.

About 400,000 images have already been produced of reefs off Australia and in the Caribbean, and the project is now focusing on reefs around the Florida Keys in the United States.

Though the reefs along the Andaman Sea are without a doubt still beautiful, it is equally visible that they aren’t what they were a decade ago – but few reefs are. A baseline for research to better understand the damage being done by unfettered coastal development and unenforced fishing laws is necessary to protect Phuket and the surrounding provinces as the Tourism Authority of Thailand looks to further develop the region.

“The world’s reefs are in a dramatic state of decline – we’ve lost over 40 per cent of corals over the last 30 years due to pollution, destructive fishing and climate change. According to the scientific community the decline is set to continue, it will affect 500 million people globally who rely on coral reefs for food, tourism income and coastal protection,” writes Catlin Seaview Survey on its website (click here).

The goal of the project is to create a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution 360-degree panoramic vision.

“It will enable change to be clearly monitored over time and will help scientists, policy makers and the public at large to see and understand the issues reefs are facing, and work out what needs to be done to best protect coral reefs now and into the future,” the website says.

Those within the diving community, who regularly face both the beauty and degradation of our reefs, must continue to push for greater government support for projects such as the Catlin Seaview Survey to help protect our natural treasures.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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