The news follows local marine conservation group Go Eco Phuket posting photos of the pile of concrete cubic frames, sitting piled up on the sea floor in “Bay 1” off Koh Racha, on its Facebook page on Wednesday. (See here.)
DMCR Phuket office Director Watcharin Na Thalang was unavailable to comment when called by The Phuket News.
However, Nipon Thongyoo, head of the Development of Fisheries and Marine Environment Division at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) head office in Bangkok, told The Phuket News today (Feb 15) that the Go Eco Phuket post had been brought to the attention of DMCR Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat.
“Now, he has ordered me to fix this problem. I plan to do so in the next two to three weeks, but we cannot do anything right now as the wind is too strong,” Mr Nipon said.
Go Eco Phuket in their post yesterday confirmed that the pile of blocks sit at the bottom of Kon Kare Bay, on the east side of Koh Racha Yai. Local divers refer to the bay simply as “Bay 1”.
Go Eco Phuket Secretary Ittiput Schadt told The Phuket News that the pile of blocks is damaging the local dive industry.
“Foreign tourists pay money to dive at Racha Yai Island. It is a very beautiful island, but when they dive there, they see a boat that had been sunk to be a dive site and nearby they see these blocks,” he added.
“At the end of January, a foreign tourist took pictures of these blocks and posted on their own social media with the caption ‘Concrete waste of Phuket tourism’,” he said.
One pile alone comprises about 20-30 blocks, amongst about 100 blocks strewn across the sea floor, Mr Ittiput explained.
“We have asked the DMCR to at least arrange the blocks so they look better, but they just replied that there were strong wind waves on the day the blocks were dropped into the water,” he told The Phuket News.
After being informed of the news that DMCR Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat himself had seen the post and ordered for action to be taken, Mr Ittiput said, “I am glad that the DMCR gives importance to this issue
“If the DMCR is not ready to fix this, either it has not set aside the budget necessary or have the workers available immediately, they can call us for help. We believe that there are many volunteer divers who are willing to help re-arrange the blocks,” he said.
“We will arrange them according to the form specified by the DMCR. We could even stack them into a beautiful pyramid pattern,” Mr Ittiput added.
A similar structure of made from unused artificial reef blocks already stands proud on the sea floor off Koh Racha, right beside the popular “standing motorbike” attraction for divers. (See here.)