The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources has temporarily halted the dredging of a water channel at the Hua Hin-Pattaya ferry pier, for fear it would adversely affect the marine habitat, ecological system and artificial coral reefs in the area.
The dredging is being done by the Marine Department, to create a channel for use by the new ferries operating across the Gulf of Thailand between Hua Hin and Pattaya in Chon Buri. Two large steel barges, with holding capacities of 300 and 200 cubic metres, respectively, were to be used to carry the dredged mud five to seven kilometres out to sea, where it was to be dumped. Local fishermen complained the barges dropped the mud only 800 metres from the shore during the first three days of dredging, and one to two kilometres on Sunday. They said the mud was dropped in areas where artificial coral reefs were built to attract fish. The dispersal of the mud also caused the sea to become murky and smelly.
The fishermen were afraid if this were allowed to continue the artificial reefs and the marine life habitat would be destroyed. After receiving their complaint, Bannarak Sermthong, director of the 3rd Marine and Coastal Resources Office, led officials to the area on a fact-finding investigation. Bannarak said the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources had no knowledge of the project to dredge the water channel. Department officials had collected samples of sea water and examined the artificial coral reefs to see how they had been affected.
Pending the result of the investigation, the department had ordered the suspension of dredging.
Bannarak said the sea off Prachuap Khiri Khan is home to important marine life, such as Bruda whales, which are near to extinction, and various kinds of turtles. The dispersal of mud could affect the migratory route of Bruda whales from Samut Sakhon down to Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, he added. – Bangkok Post