(MCOT News) TRAT, Feb 23
This eastern Thai province has announced the closure of three islands indefinitely after over 90 per cent of their coral reefs are experiencing coral bleaching and have died from global warming, according to local officials.
Chalerm Glinnimnuan, chief of Mu Ko Chang National Park, said the announcement applies to only three islands, Ko Thong Lang, Ko Kra and Ko Tien, and was ordered by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
The islands closure aims at rehabilitating the coral and preventing divers from entering such areas. Buoys have already been placed around the three islands, he said. Tourist or fishing boats entering the zones will be strictly prosecuted according to Thai law. An official announcement on the matter will be made again, Mr Chalerm said.
In January, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation ordered indefinite closure of diving sites in the country’s national marine parks in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea for coral rehabilitation.
Director-General Sunun Arunnopparat said the problem of coral bleaching is the most severe in ten years, so the department has opted to close a number of diving sites in national marine parks including Had Nopparatthara-Mu Ko Phi Phi in Krabi, Mu Ko Chumphon in Chumpon, Had Chao Mai in Trang, Ao Phangnga and Mu Ko Similan in Phangnga, and Mu Ko Preta and Tarutao in Satun. (MCOT online news)