Officials from the Department of National Park Wildlife Conservation and Plant Conservation (DNP) have announced the annual five-month closure of popular tourists islands around Phuket as of today in order to recover marine life during the rainy season.
Director the Marine National Park Management division of the DNP, Nattapol Rattanaphan, said, “The DNP will close many national parks from May 16 – Oct. 15. The parks will open again Oct. 16 until May 15 of the following year.”
“These affected parks are Surin Islands, Similan Islands, Koh Rok and Koh Ha in Lanta National Park, Koh Hin Muang Daeng in Hat Chao Mai National Park, and Koh Ardang Rawi and Koh Lipe in the Tarutao National Park in Satun,” said Nattapol.
Asked whether any additional areas would be closed during this period to allow marine life to recover, Nattapol said, “No, no extra areas will be closed.”
“I did receive a request to open some areas, including Koh Rawi in Satun and Chao Mai Beach in Trang, but I refused these requests,” he explained.
“In addition, all those involved in the tourism industry, including tour companies, have been told of the closures and not to enter the parks.”
“Tomorrow national park officials in the affected areas will drop buoys to block the areas,” he said.
“The monsoon season is a time when marine life should be allowed to restore itself and fishing has also been banned in certain areas as fishermen are known to cause a lot of damage to marine life,” Nattapol added.
Maya Bay, in Phi Phi-Noppharat Thara National Park, was also supposed to be closed since environmental studies showed that the area had been damaged by tourist visits and boats scraping the coral.
However, Nattapol told Thai PBS that tour operators had already sold packages to tourists for the time when the parks was supposed to be closed. So, instead of asking them to make refunds and close the area as scheduled so that the marine life can recover, he made the call to keep the park open. He said that next monsoon season, Maya Bay will close.
Story: The Phuket News