On January 20, 2011 At 13:00 The Director General Of The Department Of National Parks, Wildlife And Plant Conservation (DNP), Mr. Sunan Arunnopparat, Released Information To The Press Regarding The Management Of Coral Bleaching In Marine National Parks.
There Has Recently Been Widespread Coral Bleaching In Coral Reefs In Both The Andaman Sea And The Gulf Of Thailand, An Issue To Which The Department Has Paid A Great Deal Of Attention. The National Parks Research Division Of The National Parks Office Has Been Continuously Monitoring This Phenomenon For A Period Of Time. Coral Bleaching May Arise From Various Factors: Increased Water Temperatures, Increased Solar Radiation, Change In Salinity, Increases In Sedimentation, Bacterial Infections, And Combinations Of These Factors. However, The Main Factors Causing The Current Coral Bleaching Are The Combined Effects Of Global Warming, Which Has Raised The Sea Temperature By 1-2 Degrees Celsius, and Increases In Sunlight Intensity. As A Result, There Is Damage To The Photosynthetic Symbionts Of Corals (known As Zooxanthellae) Which Become Expelled From The Coral Host. This Process Is Known As Coral Bleaching. Coral Are Significantly Weakened By Bleaching Events And Tend To Die In Great Numbers Within 2-3 Weeks If The Conditions Do Not Return To Normal. Limitation Of Tourism Activities At Affected Coral Reefs Will Also Reduce Stress On The Coral And Aid In Its Recovery.
Mr. Sunan Noted that The Department Of Marine And Coastal Resources (DMCR) Proposal To Close All Marine National Parks In The Andaman Sea, May Not Be Applicable. Blanket Closure Of All Marine Parks Will Have Great Impacts On The Many Stakeholders In Those Marine Areas. DNP Has Today Consulted With Prominent Marine Scientists From Kasetsart University, Chulalongkorn University, Ramkamhaeng University, Prince Of Songkla University And DMCR And Superintendants Of Andaman Marine National Parks And Came To A Decision To Implement Site-specific Closures Of Those Dive Sites Where Coral Bleaching Affects Over 80% Of The Coral. The Closures Will Help The Coral To Regenerate From The Bleaching Which Has Occurred. Monitoring Will Continue At All Closed Sites. There Are 7 Marine National Parks With Diving Sites That Will Be Closed:
1. Hat Chao Mai National Park, Trang Province : Ko Chueak
2. Mu Ko Phetra National Park, Satun Province : Ko Bulon Maiphai
3. Tarutao National Park, Satun Province : Ko Takiang, Ko Hin-Ngam, Ko Rawi (Had-Saikao),
4. Mu Ko Chumphon National Park, Chumphon Province : Ko Maphrao
5. Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, Krabi Province : Hin Klang Reef
6. Mu Ko Surin National Park, Phang-Nga Province : Ao Mae Yai, Ao Jaak , Ao Tao, Ko Torinla,
Ko Mungkorn Or Ko Pajumba
7. Mu Ko Similan National Park, Phang-Nga Province : Beacon Reef, East Of Eden
DNP Is Continuing To Apply Its Policy Of Controlling The Impacts Of Diving By Limiting The Number Of Divers To Carrying Capacity Model That Can Be In The Water At A Site At A Single Time. In Addition, Our Law Enforcement Of Illegal Fishing In The Vicinity Of Coral Reefs Will Continue. The Researchers Will Also Monitor The Bleaching Phenomena And The Effects Of The DNP Measures. We Will Initiate Outreach Programs Regarding The Coral Bleaching With Tour Operators And Local Communities, Including Sea Gypsy Communities, To Further Reduce The Impacts On The Coral. Marine Park Manager Will Continue Its Core Activities That Protect The Coral Reefs Applying Carrying Capacity Models At Dive Sites, Increasing The Number Of Mooring Buoys (which Reduces Damage Caused By Dropped Anchors), And Long Term Monitoring Of The Coral Reefs. Improvements To Nature Interpretation And Environmental Education For Park Visitors And School Children And Adults In Local Communities Are Also Very Important For Long-term Protection Measures, Which Can Raise Awareness About Global Warming And Its Effects On Coral Bleaching.
For Long-term Rehabilitation, DNP Will Work Closely With Related Organizations And Experts By Creating A Committee To Mitigate Damage And Improve The Condition Of Coral Reefs In The Andaman Marine National Parks, An Area Which Is In The Process Of Being Nominated To Be On The Natural World Heritage Sites.
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