The Koh Tao Community has a productive history with the Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) on a wide variety of projects such as mooring buoys, giant clam releases, marine zoning, artificial reefs, coral nurseries, and more. They are one of the island’s biggest supporters when it comes to our marine conservation projects.
To kick this year off they conducted a free workshop for the local community to teach people about coral nursery techniques, which was attended by all the local kids and about 30 locals. Of course the whole NHRCP team was there as well. First they held a workshop and opening ceremony at the Save Koh Tao Office to commemorate the occasion and to talk about some of the threats to reefs. Next, they showed people how to use the 24 PVC coral tray which they brought with them. After a free lunch then it was time to head out on King Kong 1 to deploy the nurseries in the restoration zone at Tao Tong.
Teams of divers collected naturally broken corals from the rubble areas around the reef and brought them to the boat to be secured. At the boat, helpers cleaned the fragments and attached them to PVC tubes using metal screws, before handing the trays back to the divers to be placed down in the areas that have suffered due to bleaching and storms.
About 300 small coral fragments, that otherwise would have died, were secured to the PVC frames and are now in better growing conditions to ensure their survival. The use of PVC for artificial reefs is not the preferred method of Save Koh Tao or the NHRCP, but it is convenient when training non-professionals as it can be done by anybody with only a little bit of instruction and guidance. The NHRCP actually tested PVC trays in 2007-2009, but discontinued their use in favor of stronger and more natural looking materials such as metal, concrete, and glass.
That night, there was a meeting at New Heaven between the DMCR, the local government, Save Koh Tao, and the Dept. of Marine Fisheries to discuss each groups plans for the next few years. For Save Koh Tao, we presented on the progress of our work last year regarding the projects sponsored by the DMCR, and then talked about some of the problems we are having and requested assistance. One of these problems was that of fishing nets on Chuphon Pinnacle. At the moment it seems like every week that divers report on the Marine Conservation Koh Tao Facebook page that there is a massive net at the site. We proposed some passive anti-fishing devices and increased enforcement of the regulations, and the other groups accepted that and promised to help.
The following day, the DMCR team joined with some of our local divers to go out and survey sites around the island that may be suitable as artificial reef zones to increase the reef size and provide more areas for divers to use to reduce impacts on the natural reefs, a project which is scheduled for later in 2013.