Ecologist rates Thai coral reef decay rate as alarming

Asst Prof Thon, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, said 77% or 140,000 out of total 107,800 rai of coral reef area in the Thai seas is in a sorry state, with unhealthy coral reefs expanding at an alarming rate. In 2008, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said 42,000 rai (30%) of total 140,000 rai of corals was devastated.

Asst Prof Thon blamed tourism and polluted water released by beachfront hotels, resorts and residential houses as the main cause for the unhealthy coral reefs. He added the situation was also exacerbated by plastic trash dumped in water, which can infect coral and cause them long-term harm.

Asst Prof Thon singled out water contamination as the largest contributor to the degeneration of coral reefs in the country, as only 30% of polluted water goes through wastewater treatment process. Besides, reefs were also being damaged by sediments from landfills along coastal areas, he said. "All of this [the degeneration of corals] is a result of man-made pollution, especially the influx of tourists which is not being handled properly. Over the past two or three years, Thailand has had no problems with coral bleaching, but the degeneration has continued to this day," Asst Prof Thon said.

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