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Coral Fish Gong Grass
@ Koh Mak

ปะ ปลา ยูน หญ้า ณ เกาะหมาก

Koh MaK Island, spanning approximately 12.3 square kilometers, features a substantial coral reef covering about 9.7 square kilometers. Notably, the northeastern part of the island hosts a seagrass bed. Damage to the coral reefs has resulted from coral bleaching due to global warming, as well as irresponsible tourism, illegal fishing, and regulatory violations.

Koh MaK Island serves as a tourism exemplar, leveraging its abundant marine resources. Emphasis is placed on low-carbon tourism, driven by the constraints of a limited state budget for marine environmental conservation. Fortunately, the restoration and preservation of Koh MaK Island's coral reefs are not excessively challenging, thanks to the environmentally conscious, dedicated, and cooperative local community. The primary hurdle lies in insufficient funds for reef maintenance. Swift action is imperative to expedite coral reef restoration, enhancing competitiveness in both the fishing industry and international tourism.

The damage to coral reefs directly affects the ability of marine animals to reproduce, as they rely on these reefs for laying eggs, feeding, and nurturing their offspring. This area features numerous seagrass meadows known for their excellent ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide, referred to as Blue Carbon. These seagrasses serve as a food source for endangered species such as sea turtles and dugongs. However, replanting seagrass in this area is challenging due to coral reef debris on the seabed.

Coral reefs serve as habitats for juvenile fish, increasing both the quantity and diversity of fish species. Uncle Aung explains that, based on observations, after planting artificial reefs for about 2 years, small fish are seen residing in the area. Subsequently, larger fish follow, circulating around the vicinity. The installation of artificial habitats, such as artificial reefs, attracts marine life to seek refuge and increases the chances of breeding. This improvement enhances our fishing activities. However, without artificial reefs providing hiding places for small fish, larger fish are less likely to appear.

Coral reef structures positively impact seagrass by reducing wave impact (hydrodynamics), especially during storms. This protection benefits seagrass meadows by facilitating sediment accumulation, preventing erosion, and maintaining sediment in place. Seagrass meadows are particularly important for carbon sequestration, outperforming terrestrial forest ecosystems by up to 10 times. They excel in storing carbon both in biomass, through photosynthesis, and by trapping sediment runoff from other ecosystems. Research indicates that when coral reef structures are connected to seagrass meadows, the accumulation of sediment organic carbon increases, leading to better preservation of organic matter in the soil.

Moreover, coral reef structures contribute to protecting coastal areas from erosion and sediment erosion caused by wave impacts. This interaction underscores the importance of maintaining the connection between coral reefs and seagrass meadows for their ecological synergy and the preservation of blue carbon.

This seagrass meadow serves as a representative of ecosystem services and has the potential to mitigate climate change impacts. Seagrass plays a crucial role in nurturing marine life, providing a breeding ground for small marine creatures, serving as a source of food, and offering shelter for various marine species. These include the black-blotched porcupinefish, long-spined sea urchin, swimming crab, horned sea star, four-lined terrapin, flatworm, flower sea urchin, nudibranch, sea anemone, white spot anemone shrimp, giant clam, and black sea cucumber.

The improved economy is attributed to the influx of tourists. With more people visiting, there is an increased demand for accommodation, transportation services, and dining options, leading to an overall enhancement of the community. The sustainable development of high-quality tourism further underscores the success of Koh Mak, which has been internationally recognized as a sustainable tourist destination, securing a spot in the Green Destinations Top 100 in 2022, as organized by the Green Destinations Foundation. In addition, Koh Mak has been voted as a Low Carbon Destination by the Special Area Development Management Organization for Sustainable Tourism.

Due to limited funds for marine conservation and the possibility of other pressing issues in areas outside Koh Mak, restoring and preserving coral reefs may be challenging. However, the community's awareness and dedication make coral reef rehabilitation feasible. The key missing factor is government funding for reef maintenance. Taking swift action is crucial to fully restore coral reefs and enhance competitiveness in fishing and global tourism. Previously, coral reefs were protected wildlife under the Wildlife Reservation and Protection Act of 1992, prohibiting hunting, harm, possession, trade, or breeding without permission. However, the matter of coral reef restoration had been neglected for a long time until Mr. Nopadol Suttithornakul (Uncle Aung) took the initiative to gather community members and establish the Koh Mak Coral Conservation Group. This was done to legally conduct coral planting activities, obtaining permission for reef maintenance from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. This was successfully accomplished by the end of the year 2021.

To raise funds for the project with Taejai, amounting to 300,000 Baht (the remaining 200,000 Baht will be raised with Carenation), supporting the coral conservation group in Koh Mak, Trat province, related expenses for the marine ecosystem restoration activities on Koh Mak will be covered. These expenses include the costs associated with regular boat trips for the restoration and maintenance of the coral reefs.

Coral Fish Gong Grass
@ Koh Mak


coral branches

Bt 330,000

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