The Second Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium, over five days on Phuket.

Delegates on Phuket hear all about the state of the region's coral  reefs

Delegates on Phuket hear all about the state of the region’s coral reefs

Photo by phuuketwan.com

Phuket’s Reefs Gain from Gathering of Experts

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PHUKET’S coral reefs will gain invaluable help this week from 450 experts taking part in the Second Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium, over five days on Phuket.

On Tuesday, many of them will dive off the reefs themselves, before returning to talk more about the problems that are assailing coral reefs throughout the region.

Phuket Vice Governor Treerayut Eamtakul said today that with so many difficulties to be surmounted to protect the Andaman’s coral reefs for the future, it was timely and useful to have experts from 35 countries offering up their ideas.

The symposium is being held at Royal Phuket City Hotel until Thursday, with the dive trips and mini-symposiums occupying the experts’ time. ”Phuket will be delighted to hear what these experts can tell us,” the vice governor said.

It’s only the second symposium of its kind – the first was held four years ago in Hong Kong. Associated Professor Put O. Ang jr of the Marine Science Laboratory at the Chinese University of Hong Kong told Phuketwan today that the South China Sea and surrounding area was the richest in the world for coral reefs, marine creatures and plants.

But it was a struggle to ward off destructive fishing methods, sedimentation and deforestation, which were responsible for a general deterioration of the marine environment.

”Eventually this affects the livelihood of people who depend on the reefs,” he said. Bleaching caused by the extra heat of global climate change is the latest challenge. ”If the corals die, the whole system will collapse,” he said.

Dr Thamasak Yeemin, chair of the symposium organising committee and a Professor at Ramkhamhaeng University, said some 40 to 50 percent of Thailand’s coral reefs had been affected by bleaching.

”We can’t control the temperature of the water but we can control the number of divers,” he said. ”Other effects from run-off and fishing can also be managed,” he said.

Quality of the coral reefs was the key, he said. ”The reefs are vital for the tourism industry, on Phuket and around the world,” he added.

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