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Thailand Conservation Project supports International Year of the Reef 2008

The ICRI International Year of the Reef 2008 (IYOR 2008) is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. This follows from the success of the first IYOR campaign in 2007 which was initiated in response to the increasing threats and loss of coral reefs and associated ecosystems, like mangroves and sea grasses.

Lifting a discarded anchor

Ten years on, many of the man-made threats still remain, whilst some such as climate change and ocean acidification, have become even more detrimental to the world’s reefs. Consequently, the aims of IYOR 2008 are to:

  • Strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Improve understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
  • Generate urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.

Nudibranch laying eggs

As the Projects Abroad Thailand Conservation Project already carries out surveys of the reefs in the Krabi area, and helps preserve them by cleaning marine debris and fish nets that end up on either the reefs or local beaches, we have been asked by Phuket Marine Biological Centre to adopt a specific reef and carry out a more detailed diversity study, whilst continuing with the usual salvage missions and surveys that we would normally carry out.

The reef that Projects Abroad have adopted is Mu Sang Nua, one that will bring back memories for many of the past volunteers of a particularly diverse reef that is constantly under threat from the local fishermen that frequent the rock pinnacle and often end up snagging their nets across the whole reef. We hope to return to Mu Sang Nua at least once every two months to perform our ‘adoption duties’, cleaning the reef and gathering biodiversity information about it, with an aim of putting forward our findings to the government suggesting it be given national park status for future protection.

Pharoah cuttlefish

We are also developing ideas to communicate the message of the importance and fragility of the reefs to the thousands of tourists that come through Ao Nang each year. Though tourism is financially very beneficial to the area, it also has enormous impacts on the marine ecosystems due to land reclamation and sedimentation, the increase in pollution and eutrophication, and physical damage to the reefs caused by tourists whilst snorkeling and diving. It is the latter threat that we are trying to raise awareness about by developing posters to put up in tour agency offices and leaflets to spread amongst the tourists, as well as exploring opportunities to have direct contact with them explaining how they can personally help protect the reefs.

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