23 Jan '11, 12pm

Thailand bans diving at marine parks to save coral reefs

BANGKOK - Thailand on Thursday indefinitely banned diving at seven popular marine parks to protect deteriorating coral reefs. The ban applies to some 22 places in the parks where "bleaching" covers 80 per cent or more of the coral reefs. The parks are on the Andaman Sea on Thailand's west coast. The recovery of the coral would be monitored before the ban is lifted, said National Parks Department chief Sunan Arunnopparat. The ban is likely to hurt Thailand's lucrative tourist industry. Nearly 16 million international visitors were expected last year, and Thailand's beaches are a major draw. A campaign would be launched to explain the situation to tour operators, tourists and the public, Mr Sunan said. The authorities will also step up action against illegal fishing. "Bleaching" occurs when coral becomes stressed and expels the algae that live inside and give it colour. The ...

Full article: http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110122-0000161/Thaila...

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