Restocking Thailand’s oceans, one fish at a time

sleep February 08, 2018 14:07

By The Nation

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The luxury Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort underlines its commitment to sustainable tourism by launching the brand new Marine Discovery Centre, which will conduct clownfish and nurse shark release programmes in Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park.

Managed by S Hotels & Resorts, a Singha Estate subsidiary, the centre will open its doors to welcome its first visitors on February 15. It will offer a series of interactive exhibitions on the life cycles and habits of many marine species endemic to the Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, as well as information on the area’s natural attractions and a gift shop.

The new environmental attraction will be added to a special programme to re-introduce clownfish – affectionately known as “nemos” – back into the region’s once plentiful waters.

“Unfortunately, since the world fell in love with a cartoon fish called Nemo, the natural population has been devastated due to the collection and sale of clownfish,” says Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a respected environmentalist, marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University who is senior adviser to the project.

“The rush to capture these endearing fish has slowed in recent years because breeding them in captivity has become more cost effective. We therefore have a rare opportunity to actively re-build the clownfish population around Koh Phi Phi and attract visitors to the islands at the same time.”

Aiming to restore natural balance, a Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort team has built a Clownfish nursery within the centre, where they will raise and breed a particular species of “nemo” before releasing the fish into the ocean.

Snorkellers and divers will be able to join regular “nemo” release trips by boat, supported by fun but environmentally conscious activities, including film screenings and eco-friendly parties. Guests will also be able to follow the release programme online when they return home and can even “adopt” a Clownfish and have it returned to the ocean.

The centre will also raise nurse sharks, another species whose numbers have been dramatically depleted in recent years. The slow-moving bottom-dwellers are generally harmless to humans and can grow to impressive four metres in length.

With no species known to regularly to prey on nurse sharks, their demise is almost entirely caused by fishing and habitat destruction. Experts therefore believe it is best to re-introduce them within the boundaries of the Marine National Park.

“At Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort we take our role as the human hosts in this beautiful natural destination very seriously and we are always looking for ways to protect and preserve the environment that supports us,” says Chao Treenawong, general manager of Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort.

“We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world to visit our Marine Discovery Centre as we encourage them to learn about, and take an active role in protecting Thailand’s unique marine species.”

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