Thailand declares southern coral reefs protected by law

Thailand took another assertive step last week to preserve its environment and marine resources as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment declared that coral reefs, seagrass, and undersea rock formations in five southern provinces are protected by law.

The Ministry said that these resources are now shielded under the Coastal Resources Management Act. They include seagrass, coral reefs and marine rock formations off Payam Island in southern Ranong province, and the rock formations off the Kingdom’s southern coasts of Surat Thani, Pattani, Phang-Nga and Krabi provinces.

Jatuporn Buruspat, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, said that divers and tourists had severely damaged Payam Island’s coral reefs. Mass tourism has been taking an increasing toll on Thailand’s environment, a similar situation in many countries where tourism is an important economic sector. The Ministry’s action is viewed as a bold step since Thailand is known as a diver’s paradise.

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has closed world-famous Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island since 2018 because the large numbers of tourists had damaged its coral reefs.  Minister Varawut Silpa-archa  tooks a firm stand on defending the environment and coral reefs, saying he would not reopen it until the coral has recovered.

The Ministry warned that anyone caught damaging the reefs or other underwater environmental treasures would face up to one year in prison and a fine. Dumping garbage in the protected areas would qualify as a violation of the act.

The act also bans boats from dropping anchor in the areas, and feeding or catching marine life.

Photo courtesy of