Coral bleaching workshop builds Phuket resilience

Posted on November 4, 2013

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An all-day professional workshop on coral bleaching, co-sponsored by the WWF and SEEK (Society, Environment, Economy, Knowledge), was held on October 16 at the JW Marriott Mai Khao.

The workshop focused on Thailand’s coral reef resilience and restoration, and the importance that a healthy marine ecosystem could have on Phuket’s long term tourism-based economy.

Workshop topics included ‘building resilience’; ‘how to identify and prioritise research’, ‘lessons learned from the 2010 bleaching event’ and ‘responsive actions’.

Governor Maitree Intusut, who was just one of the dignitaries in attendance, stressed the importance of the protection of the Andaman coastline as a natural wonder with some of the world’s most pristine forests, waterfalls, beaches, mangrove watersheds and coral reefs.

Nick Anthony, a representative of both SEEK and the Kamala Green Club, was at the event and told The Phuket News how it was important that lessons from the workshop were heeded.

“With the ongoing current transformation of Phuket into a ‘mature destination’, comes a heavy responsibility to maintain regulations and enforcement to ensure public areas are kept that way, for tourists and local communities alike.”

Throughout the day-long workshop it was suggested that a protected and healthy marine environment with stronger controls, protections, enforcement and higher fines should be an integral component of Phuket’s Intercoastal Conservation Plan.

Perhaps with one eye on future marketing materials, it was decided that colour-coding the different areas with different levels of focus would make it easier and more attractive to digest.

The areas thus discussed were:

BLUE: Ocean

In order to protect the ocean’s coral reef quality, vessel pollution, fishing practices, anchor practices, and education, there were a certain number of areas to focus on, including zoning of ocean areas with stronger enforcement, turtle breeding and protection, pollution control (waste, water, fuel), and banning fish feeding.

GOLD: Beaches

This is an area where there is some already good work being done already, with the beach Green Clubs that organise regular beach cleaning, and on Kamala Beach – full time beach cleaning. In these places, beach trash is recycled as much as possible or used for art projects with minimal waste. Other suggestions made throughout the day were for recycling stations, silt control from building sites, waste removal and climate change considerations

GREEN: Land

On Phuket, SEEK is collaborating with the local government and international conservation experts IUCN and WWF, the private sector and local communities to build proactive healthy ecosystem management using the IUCN Ridge to REEF program to map and reduce land based reef stress. Further suggestions include waste removal from community areas and roadsides and vendors education.

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For more information on these and other initiatives, visit myseek.org

Follow Nick Anthony on twitter at indigonick and listen to his Saturday’s Going Green Show on Live 89.5FM from 3 to 5pm for beach cleaning updates and schedules, local and international green news and interviews with people who are part of the change.

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