Phuket property development killing sea coral

19 Mar 2012

Recent marine surveys have revealed that the construction of new properties on Phuket is killing its offshore coral reefs. Leading coral expert Niphon Pongsuwan says construction companies building new hotels and resorts close to the island’s shoreline are releasing sand and cement dust into the sea which is playing havoc with marine ecosystems.  

Phuket Marine Biological Centre says that over time the building waste will totally destroy coral reefs and seagrass. At Tang Khen Beach, near Cape Panwa, 250km² of reefs have been coated with sediment from construction projects which the marine research team says has already annihilated its staghorn coral.

Mr Pongsuwan added that his team planned to run surveys every six months, in high risk districts such as Patong and Tang Khen, to evaluate whether coral and sea creatures were still being harmed by the sediment.

Environmentalists say that over the past decade there have been at least 100 large-scale developments in areas such as Patong, Karon and Kamala which involved clearing hillside forest areas and dredging. They allege the sediment from these projects has washed off into the sea and is now an eco-disaster in the making.

Phuket Marine and Coastal Resources Department director Boonchop Sutthamanaswong said there had been innumerable complaints about the environmental impact of the land developments. He said he planned to consult with the National Environmental Agency with a view to introducing more stringent controls regarding building close to the coasts of Thailand. 

Mr Sutthamanaswong also said local councils would be pushed to monitor building developments to ensure they were having minimal impact on the environment and marine ecosystems. 

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