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Phuket Diving: PADI centers clean up Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Diving: PADI centers clean up Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: After coming face to face with shattered coral reef systems all over the world and confronting messes of plastic bags and tangled fishing nets, which are not-so-slowly strangling one of the world’s most important ecosystems, divers understand the importance of reef cleanups. There is of course that feeling of only delaying the inevitable, but isn’t that why we try to stop smoking and start exercising at some-point?

On Phuket, PADI, the world’s largest scuba diver training agency, and Project AWARE Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, is launching a collaborative “Dive for Debris” event, with around 25 PADI Dive Centers putting aside their profits, digging into their own pockets and attempting to make a difference with Phuket’s biggest reef cleanup.

Project AWARE Foundation is a nonprofit group established to organize divers and make a positive impact on the world’s oceans. The foundation established its first International Cleanup Day in 1993, with divers participating in thousands of cleanups.

According to Project AWARE’s website, “Cleanup dives from the past 18 years have been a true inspiration, placing scuba divers in the spotlight, key to addressing debris issues on a global scale.”

The Phuket Gazette sat down with Thailand’s West coast PADI Regional Manager and Project AWARE Ambassador, Tony Andrews to get a better grasp of the event and the impact it will have on Phuket’s reef systems.

Phuket Gazette
: There are dozens of cleanup projects every year on Phuket, what makes the project you are working on special?

Tony Andrews: Okay, what I think you’ve got to realize is that every PADI dive center here does underwater cleanups and they do beach cleanups, reef cleanups and reef checks independently. What makes this one special is that we’ve got about 25 official PADI centers on Phuket and we’re bringing them all together to do one massive reef cleanup. But more importantly we’re going to document and report exactly what we find under the ocean.

We’re hoping to get about 200 divers in the water on two islands [Koh Racha Yai and Noi].

To collect all that information about what debris is down there and lift it up in this quantity has never been done on Phuket.

Getting every dive center, especially the PADI centers to work together is fantastic.

What’s going to be the goal? How will you measure your success with this event?
The level of success will be based on how much rubbish lifted off the reefs we can document. At the moment we have 10 dive boats.

Each dive boat is going to be assigned part of the reef to be cleaned. Now, what we’re going to do is submit the data that is collected on the day [to Project AWARE’s database]… So if we’re talking about 10 vessels and 200 divers [then] we’re talking a minimum of 10 documented marine debris data cards that we’ll present to the rest of the world and of course… the local authorities here in Thailand.

So, the information that is being collected is being added to Project AWARE’s larger marine debris database. Now, what’s the goal of that database?

To make the world aware that we need clean, healthy reefs… We’ve got to educate locals, Westerners, businesses, divers, everybody, and say, ‘Look we’ve got to look after the reefs we’ve got, because without them everything is just going to shut down.’

Our combined work in collecting, using and sharing data is fed into data that is submitted from divers all around the world.

Conservation cannot be done in isolation. That’s why all our divers here in Phuket together with Project AWARE can play a critical, deciding role in marine debris abatement efforts. Our data will support the development of coordinated policies and strategies to tackle marine debris at every point.

What dive boat operators and shops are part of this cleanup?
Okay, it pleases me to say that all of the big PADI five star IDC centers, PADI five centers and PADI dive centers have donated their boats.

We’ve got two live-aboards going out. One vessel is from Khao Lak Scuba Adventures. They’ve donated their boat, which is doing an overnight trip on Koh Racha Noi for professionals [divers] only. Their target will be to lift some of the big stuff, such as car tires and so on.

All the other boats going out are day boats… so anyone can feel free to join. As I said before, we’re talking roughly 200 divers that can be taken out there, though I’m hoping that if people want to donate more boats they will feel free to contact us.

What’s your function in the project? What role are you playing?

My main goal is to unite these dive centers, because the importance of looking after these reefs is in everybody’s interest.

From a business perspective, if your reefs go, obviously you’re going to lose your business. People are going to be out of their jobs, and that has big consequences, not just for the diving industry but for tourism too.

So, my main goal is to be a mediator in the project.

I don’t own a business here. I work for PADI. So, as a neutral person I can bring people together and drive the project forward as a PADI Regional Manager.

Now, PADI is a main corporate sponsors of the event. We’re going to support these efforts and assist the dive businesses so their out of pocket expenses are reduced.

I think you’ve really got to emphasis the fact that these PADI centers are closing their business for one day. They are losing money to donate their boats; they’re putting their hands in their pockets for fuel and food costs. That loss of business for one day is quite substantial for Phuket. So, if you’re talking about ten of the biggest dive boats on the island going, wow, that’s pretty impressive.

But they are doing this because they understand and believe in the difference divers can make.

We’re all honored and proud to be part of this event and fly the conservation flag for Phuket.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve run into when coordinating the efforts of all these dive centers? Everyone is PADI, but at the same time they are direct competitors…

You’ve got the main centers that have jumped at the chance, because they want to help Phuket; they want to help the dive industry, but what I would like to see is some of the smaller dive centers come on board.

You don’t necessarily need to have a boat to do this. A lot of people think that you have to have your own boat to be on board with the project. If you want to get involved just email us or contact the Gazette [isaac@phuketgazette.net] and come on board.

There are still some companies out there that could attend the meetings and say, ‘Yeah we’re going to help.’ They’ve been in business here for many years. It’s time to give something back to Phuket, and especially give something back to the diving community.

Everyone is trying to determine what price they can send their dive boat out for and still turn a profit. Now they came together for a meeting and leveled with each other to make this work. How did that meeting go?
The meeting was great.

They all came, and if the owner wasn’t there, they sent a representative that

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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