Best of our wild blogs: 27 Mar 16

Morning Walk At Venus Drive (26 Mar 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Larval Host Plant for Butterflies: Yellow Saraca
Butterflies of Singapore

Lazarus trekking with giant clam find
wonderful creation

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Singapore’s fish farms brace for impact of climate change

The expected soaring temperatures could result in a plankton bloom, leading to massive fish deaths and loss of earnings for farmers.
Loh Chuan Junn, Channel NewsAsia 26 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: With temperatures in Singapore expected to climb in the coming weeks, coastal fish farmers are coming up with ways to cope with a possible plankton bloom.

The phenomenon, which sees a surge in plankton due to factors like unusual weather, can cause massive fish deaths. It has been occurring here since 2009. In 2015, more than 50 coastal farms across Singapore lost more than 500 tonnes of fish to the plankton bloom overnight. Some fish farms lost more than S$1 million in earnings.

In response, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority worked with coastal fish farmers to develop mitigating measures against plankton bloom. These include a closed containment system using canvas bags. However, some farmers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said the canvas-bag system may not be helpful.

"The canvas system is only suitable for nursery fishes,” said fish farmer Philip Lim. “It’s not for grown up fishes or long-term usage because your water is already contaminated. To take out the fishes to the reservoir, you’ll need time.

“So, with plankton bloom, it won’t wait. It’ll come suddenly, even if you're prepared. When it comes at midnight, you’ll still have no time for that when you have more fish."

Prompted by the warmer conditions, Mr Lim is hoping to use biological chemicals like catalyst enzyme to reduce the concentration of algae in the water. It causes algae to sink to the bottom and converts it into a food source for marine species.


Meanwhile, the president of the Fish Farmers Association of Singapore, Mr Timothy Ng, said many of its 50-odd members are either scaling down their operations or turning to other kinds of farming.

"If we cannot do farming of fish, we may turn to farming of other things like maybe lobsters,” said Mr Ng. “I hear some of the old-timers have gone crabbing, just to harvest flower crabs from the sea for sale. So, it's just to hopefully ride out this situation and hope that'll at least be some real effective measures coming."

The coastal fish farmers hope more innovations and improvements can help them sustain their business, as climate change continues to be an issue.

- CNA/jo

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Jurong Fishery Port to undergo redevelopment

Jurong Fishery Port to go through overhaul, possibly become tourist spot
ARIFFIN JAMAR The New Paper 27 Mar 16;

Tucked away in a small corner of the island, Jurong Fishery Port is all hustle and bustle when most of Singapore is still fast asleep.

The fishery port started operations in 1969, integrating a port for fishing vessels to dock, a 400m-long wharf and a 9,000sq m wholesale fish market. It is where most of the seafood found in wet markets or supermarkets are from.

A cacophony of sounds greets visitors in the wee hours - fishermen noisily dropping off their catches and fishmongers announcing loudly the variety of seafood available at their stations.

Then-Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan announced last year that the fishery port will be upgraded.

A spokesman for the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, which operates both the Jurong and Senoko fishery ports, told The Straits Times that redevelopment for the former is on its way.

One idea is for the fishery port to become an attraction, like Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco or the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.

The New Paper on Sunday (TNPS) visited the fishery port last Thursday and talked to the people at work.


Mr Lim Pong Hooi, 50, has been running around the fishery port since he was 29 years old.

TNPS visited him at 2am, only for the man to share that it was the busiest time of the "day" and that the hubbub would die down only when the day breaks.

His company, Ee Heng Chop, has been in the trade for over 40 years. It sells up to 4.5 tonnes of fish daily, with the bulk going to wet markets and supermarkets.  

The air is thick with the smell of the sea, but it is something Mr Lim has got used to.

At the fishery port, many men work without shirts, perhaps to save their clothes from the briny fumes.

Mr Lim says: "We're rough people here, because we want to get stuff done fast."


Smart locals skip sleep and head to the fishery port for bargains.

Mr Amir Mohd Ariff, 49, is one of them.

"The seafood here is fresher and cheaper, sometimes up to $4 cheaper as compared to the heartland wet markets," says the technician, while showing off his loot.

His favourite are the sea prawns, as he claims most of the prawns sold at other places are of the farmed variety.

When asked if he would be happy to share his secret spot with other locals and tourists, he says: "It'll be sad as the raw feeling of this place would be gone."


While taking a breather from the main market, this journalist spotted a group of men cutting up fish.

When asked if it was for the shops, they reply that it is the lot that did not manage to get sold.

As fishermen, they leave nearby Batam, Indonesia, at around 9pm with the day's catch of about 15 to 20 tonnes of seafood, ranging from fishes to crustaceans, in a 10m-long vessel.

Before returning to Batam at around 7am, some of them will scale and prepare the unsold fish to be taken home.

When told about the talks of upgrading the fishery port to an upmarket spot, the first thing one of them asks is whether they will still be allowed in.

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The graveyard shift: The Wildlife Rescuer

For the past 10 years, Ms Boopal has been rescuing animals in need as part of Singapore’s only round-the-clock wildlife response hotline service team.
Channel NewsAsia 26 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: Ms Boopal is part of Singapore’s only 24-hour wildlife rescue hotline service team at the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES).

The team behind the hotline responds to calls from any part of the island, at any time of the day. They help injured native animals and relocate those who have ventured into homes by releasing them safely back into the wild.

“Since young, I love animals. So I decided that I wanted to be a vet. But in the process of learning to be one, I realised I’m scared of dissecting live animals. So I chose to study Biology instead and started doing field work,” shared Ms Boopal.

Ms Boopal’s adventure at ACRES started after she became a volunteer in 2006.

“When I was volunteering, I found that my values and the organization’s values were aligned and it was perfect. Later, when I was offered a job here, I felt really lucky because it felt like I landed on my dream job,” said Ms Boopal.

As the Deputy Chief Director of ACRES, Ms Boopal oversees general and rescue operations, animal care and the training of volunteers and staff members in the day. At night, the rescue hotline becomes her main focus.

She loves her job although it did take a little bit of getting used to the late night shifts.

“In the beginning, I used to drink a lot of coffee and Redbull. And after a while, I realized I can drink Redbull and go to sleep like a baby. Sometimes I would even do two or three night shifts in a row,” she shared.

This was not the best way to cope with the irregular work hours as it soon took a toll on her health.

“So I gave up caffeine fully and now I just depend on water to keep myself hydrated, eating on time and eating good meals. I used to snack at night a lot during the night too just to keep myself awake. I stopped all that,” said Ms Boopal.

Ms Boopal’s story is the final episode of The Other Sight of Singapore, a web series that profiles Singaporeans who work rotating shifts or night jobs. The series finds out what their job entails and how they adapt to working non-traditional hours. View the rest of the series here.

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Car-Free Sunday returns for second run

The car-free stretch was expanded this time to include Esplanade Drive, forming a 5-km route, together with St Andrew's Road, Stamford Road, Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road.
Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: Cyclists, walkers and joggers took to the roads yet again as Singapore's Car-Free Sunday returned for its second run on Sunday (Mar 27).

Under the initiative, which takes place every last Sunday of the month, roads in the Civic District and parts of the Central Business District are closed to traffic.

The car-free stretch was expanded this time to include Esplanade Drive, forming a 5-km route, together with St Andrew's Road, Stamford Road, Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road. The previous route was about 4.7-km long.

In response to public feedback, the roads were also closed at a later time and for a longer duration - from 7.30am to 10am, instead of 7am to 9am.

This time, participants were also allowed on personal mobility devices like electric scooters and hoverboards.

Family-friendly activities like sports and fitness sessions were also organised in the vicinity.

The car-free initiative is part of a six-month pilot, which started in February. Authorities have said the initiative may be expanded if the response from the public is good.

- CNA/cy

‘Smaller turnout’, but more activities, longer routes at second car-free Sunday
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 28 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE — Completing a loop around the civic district, electric unicyclists zigzagged gracefully along St Andrew’s Road, which fronts the National Gallery Singapore, joining cyclists, runners and pedestrians who showed up in droves yesterday for the second car-free Sunday SG.

In a departure from the inaugural edition on Feb 28, personal mobility devices were allowed in the latest instalment.

And their users, who turned up in modest numbers on the roads around the civic district and parts of the Central Business District, said they welcomed the inclusion of the devices.

Mr Edmund Lim, 40, who gathered about 30 electric unicyclists from enthusiast group The Wheelies for the event, said he was happy to have been able to share the roads with different users.

“(We) rarely get a chance to do this, to (ride) on the road openly,” said the regional sales manager, adding that safety precautions taken by the riders included refraining from overtaking and slowing down in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

Full-time national serviceman James Low, 19, who brought his battery-powered electric scooter, said riding in the city centre was a “nice experience”, as he could test his scooter’s performance, while keeping a safe distance from cyclists and joggers.

Elsewhere at the event, 25 yogis, armed with mats of various hues, enjoyed a yoga session in air-conditioned comfort in the basement concourse of the National Gallery.

Over at Esplanade Drive, frisbees glided through the air, and at nearby Connaught Drive, children swung tennis racquets as they tried their hand at the sport.

Some second-timers noted a smaller turnout than at last month’s event, although authorities said participants still numbered in the “thousands” yesterday.

“(There’s) less of a crowd, but the number of cyclists (is) still maintained,” said Ms Sharon Yeo, 36.

Mother-of-four Sandra Loh, 40, said the event exceeded her expectations with its wide repertoire of activities. “They actually cater to all ages, (there’s) something for everyone to participate in,” she said.

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who kicked off the event, said he hoped more Singaporeans will embrace car-free Sundays as a “monthly ritual” as they enjoy the open spaces and stay active.

But a lot more could be done, he noted. More community groups, for example, could be mobilised.

Dog owners could be encouraged to walk their dogs and participate in a dog run. The elderly could also join in the activities.

Dr Yaacob added that he has asked his grassroots leaders to involve his residents from Jalan Besar GRC in next month’s car-free Sunday.

On the inconvenience that the event might bring, Dr Yaacob said some “messiness” had to be tolerated: “We saw some challenges just now between the cyclists, the roller-bladers and the pedestrians ... (but) by and large Singaporeans respect one another.

“This is a wonderful occasion, especially for the young, to build the instincts to share spaces together with (different users), and I think that’s important.”

This second instalment in a six-month pilot initiative to promote a “car-lite” culture here featured extended hours and a longer walking, running and cycling route.

With the addition of Esplanade Drive, the route spanned five kilometres, up from around 4.7 km the last time. Roads were closed to traffic from 7.30am to 10am, instead of the 7-to-9am period previously. The next car-free Sunday will be on April 24. KENNETH CHENG

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18 dogs found abandoned across island, AVA investigating

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 27 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is investigating the case of 18 small dogs being abandoned across the island, seemingly by a single person who still has more than 30 other dogs in his care.

The individual, a middle-aged man, on Friday (March 25) met Mr Derrick Tan, president of animal welfare group Voices For Animals (VFA), which had picked up some of the dogs that were left in Yishun, Tampines and other areas.

Mr Tan said the man claimed to be “facing a crisis where the authorities wanted him to remove the animals”. He left the dogs in areas where he hoped people would take the animals in.

Mr Tan would be seeing the remaining dogs in the man’s care on Saturday before deciding how to proceed.

“Just now when we met him, he was emotional. He said he didn’t want to do it. Some of the dogs were not his, (others) had boarded the dogs with him and didn’t come back for the dogs,” Mr Tan said. “For now, we give him the benefit of the doubt.”

The dogs taken in by VFA and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) include poodles and malteses estimated to be between 1 and 10 years old.

They had skin problems and long nails. The unusually high number prompted both organisations to post on Facebook, with VFA wondering on Thursday if a “dumping session” was taking place.

SPCA acting executive director Jaipal Singh Gill said it alerted the AVA on Thursday after seeing a pattern that suggested the dogs were abandoned by the same person who was potentially breeding them.

“I think we need to have an investigation into this person and how he was keeping the dogs,” he said, adding that the man should be brought to justice if any wrongdoing is found.

The dogs with VFA are currently at Sunny Heights dog day-care centre, where Mr Tan works, and will be up for adoption at VFA’s adoption drive next weekend.

If VFA rescues the remaining dogs, they will be split between its premises at Pasir Ris Farmway and Sunny Heights, said Mr Tan.

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Malaysia: High temperatures in Kedah and Perak

ASHLEY TANG The Star 26 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Temperatures as high as 37.9°C were recorded in Alor Setar, Kedah and Lubok Merbau, Perak Saturday.

“In Langkawi, Kedah the temperatures rose to 36°C,” Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said in a statement.

Petaling Jaya, meanwhile, recorded temperature of 35.5°C as at 4pm.

He said no rain had fallen in Langkawi for 40 consecutive days while in Arau, Perlis the dry spell has continued for 35 days.

Tangau, in earlier reports, said the hot and dry weather was projected to ease by the end of the month following the inter-monsoon season where there would be more rain and thunderstorms in the evenings.

Bottled water to be distributed to drought-hit Pulau Banggi
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 26 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are underway to send bottled drinking water to Sabah’s northern Pulau Banggi which has been hit by water shortages due to the El Nino induced drought.

State Natural Disaster Management Committee head of secretariat Kol Mulliadi Al Hamdi Ladin said that district officials in Kudat were working with NGOs to distribute supplies of bottled water to the island which has a population of 20,000 living in 18 kampungs.

"Logistically, we will only be able to send in the bottled waters through normal boat transport and place it at various collection centres," he said, hoping that efforts would be completed at soonest possible time.

Kol Mulliadi said they have already delivered bottled water to the Sebatik island in east coast Tawau which was also facing water shortages due to the dry spell.

However, officials in Kudat are claiming that the situation at the 447sq km Banggi island was not as critical as made out in social media though there was a general water shortage on the island.

When contacted, Kudat district officer Sapdin Ibrahim said that it was not yet critical as the water treatment plant continued to produce about 30% of its full capacity of 2mil litres daily.

"They are still able to cope with the treated water while some kampung folks were relying on gravity water feeds,’’ he said, adding that arrangements would be made to send water supplies from the mainland by barge if the situation warrants.

Meanwhile, Kol Mulliadi said that they have been sending water tankers to 212 kampungs in 18 districts but are waiting for fresh reports from district offices following Monday’s rain.

Moderate showers lasting between three to five hours were experienced over many parts of Sabah’s west coast, interior Keningau, Tongod and Tawau early Friday.

Sabah Meteorological Services Department acting director Lim Ze Hui, however, said that the rains was not yet a sign to the end of the prolonged El Nino induced dry spell that has hit across the state over the last two months.

Lim said that the relief was just temporary though they forecasted more rain in view of the approaching inter-monsoon season towards the end of March and beginning of April.

The dry spell has triggered bush, orchard and jungle fires in many areas as well as damaged crops and creating water shortages to hundreds of villages relying on traditional water sources from rivers and wells.

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Malaysia: Penang fishermen -- Save our mangroves

The Star 27 Mar 16;

BALIK PULAU: Some 50 fishermen are protesting over the clearing of thousands of mangrove trees at a 93ha site in Kuala Jalan Baru which will be turned into a shrimp farm.

Penang Fishermen’s Association chairman Md Zainol Ajamin said the trees which were hailed a life-saving barrier when the tsunami hit in 2004 had been felled.

“And the worst is yet to come as the ponds will then be peppered with heavy doses of chemicals to prevent fish from breeding and eating the cultivated shrimps,” he told reporters at the site.

The fishermen also protested the setting up of the shrimp farm.

Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohd Idris claimed that the present shrimp farms had already been causing serious environmental problems since they started more than 10 years ago.

“The income of coastal fishermen has dropped to between RM400 and RM800 a month when they used to bring in RM2,000 a month,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Mohamed Idris said an investigation by the Environmental Health Division of the Penang Island City Council showed that the effluent from the shrimp ponds discharged into the trenches had led to clogging and water retention.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, when contacted, said he would look into the grievances of the fishermen.

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Hussain Ayob Shah urged the state authorities to visit the place to talk to the fishermen.

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Malaysia: FRIM to preserve endangered agarwood species

ADRIAN CHAN The Star 27 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Works have begun to cultivate and preserve a critically-endangered agarwood species, which has been elusive for more than a century until it was found in Terengganu last year.

The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) has taken on the task to collect and grow the Aquilaria rostrata in its ex situ conservation site, joining 73 other endangered, rare and threatened flora species.

“FRIM is always prepared to assist in any way we can to help conserve and preserve vulnerable species,” said director-general Datuk Dr Abd Latif Mohmod.

The tree was first discovered in 1911 by English botanist H.N. Ridley and believed to be native only to Wray’s Camp in Taman Negara.

In April last year, two Forestry Department rangers found what they believed to be the species in Besut, Terengganu, some 100km away from where it was first discovered.

Universiti Putra Malaysia confirmed the findings.

A specimen was later sent to FRIM’s herbarium, courtesy of the Pahang State Forestry Department.

FRIM forest plantation expert Dr Lok Eng Hai said the Aquilaria rostrata, along with seven other agarwood-producing species, had not been thoroughly studied.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, the plant was labelled Data Deficient, said Dr Lok, adding that its population could further decline due to unsustainable resin collection.

To help preserve it, Lok believed that it was possible to domesticate the rare species, based on his interactions with local agarwood planters.

“There is a need to relocate this species in the wild, properly assess its status and domesticate as well as understand its ecology distribution.”

Therefore, more collaborative projects and financial support would be required, he said.

On sustainable management and optimal use of forest resources in Malaysia, Forest Biodiversity director Dr Lilian Chua pointed out that plant populations played crucial ecological roles in the functioning of ecosystems and landscapes.

“An ecosystem that functions well provides us with clean water and air, and regulates other environmental functions optimally,” she said.

However, the research institute faces tough challenges in its work to preserve threatened flora, especially issues about land.

Dr Chua said lands were often excised from the forest landscape without an understanding of its biological diversity content, a fact made worse by a lack of proper coordination between state planning and implementing agencies.

FRIM is an agency under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to promote sustainable management and optimal use of forest resources via research.

The institute’s herbarium contains 300,000 specimens collected from all over the country in collaboration with forestry departments, universities and other agencies.

These specimens are documented and carefully stored for reference, research and conservation.

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Malaysia: Sun bear centre receives Tourism Ministry aid

The Star 27 Mar 16;

SANDAKAN: The fledgling Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre here received a boost with a RM700,000 grant from the Tourism Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the money would help efforts to conserve the endangered bear species and to support the centre’s potential for eco-tourism.

“The centre has already attracted nearly 52,000 tourists who want to get a closer look at the sun bears,” he said of the centre in Sepilok located about 40km from here.

The centre, which has 38 rescued bears, began operating in 2008 and was officially opened to the public in 2014.

The centre’s founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said he was very thankful for the ministry’s financial support.

The money to finance the centre’s operating expenditures, which stood between RM700,000 and RM800,000, mostly came from donations, visitors’ contributions and sales of souvenirs to sustain their conservation efforts, he added.

“The (ministry’s) contribution goes a long way in helping us in our programmes.

“We need to put up more facilities for the bears as well as carry out education and research activities,” he added.

Nazri, who began a six-day visit to the east coast Sabah town yesterday, is scheduled to visit Pulau Selingaan, the Agnes Keith Tea House, the Kinabatangan River Lodge and also a homestay in Batu Puteh, among other tourist centres during his stay here.

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Indonesia: Farmers face losses as foreign freighters banned

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post 26 Mar 16;

Thousands of farmers cultivating grouper fish in Indonesia, including farmers in Aceh and North Sumatra, are at risk of bankruptcy because they can no longer export the fish in light of the government’s newly issued ban on foreign fish freighters.

Maju Bersama group leader Rizal said that after the imposition of the ban by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on foreign-flagged vessels (SIKPI-A), issued on Feb. 1, grouper fish raised by fishermen could not be exported overseas. “The circular stated that foreign-flagged freighters were no longer allowed to enter Indonesian waters,” Rizal told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He claimed that fish farms had suffered losses of between Rp 50 million (US$3,750) and Rp 200 million over the past couple of months.

“At the peak point of harvest in April, 100 tons of grouper raised by the fishermen, worth around Rp 80 billion, will not be exported because foreign vessels are not allowed to carry the fish directly from the fish trading centers,” Rizal said.

He said 668 fish farmers in North Sumatra and Aceh who had lost their earnings over the last two months were at risk of going out of business.

“They have been cultivating fish for 18 years. Their earnings are reasonable because their products have so far been directly transported by the foreign vessels from the trading centers,” said Rizal, adding that the price of fish bought by the foreign vessels ranged from Rp 100,000 to Rp 140,000 per kilogram.

He added if the grouper fish were to be sold at the local market, the price would range between Rp 30,000 and Rp 40,000 per kilogram.

Separately, Killy, a local entrepreneur who works with fish cultivators, hopes that Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti will revoke the ban because it is disrupting the cultivation industry.

“Now, thousands of farmers under my support who are affiliated with 338 farmers’ groups across the country don’t know what else to do. They don’t know where to sell around 621 tons of ready-to-harvest groupers,” said Killy in Medan.

Killy said he supported the minister’s attempt to preserve the environment by reducing the number of fish caught by fishermen at sea. In order to support the ministry, Killy said he had partnered with fishermen over the years to build cultivation farms that raise fish in floating cages, sometimes called kerambas.

“Fishermen no longer catch fish at sea, but they cultivate fish in kerambas. If they cannot sell their harvest for export, I’m afraid they will feel frustrated and return to fishing at sea. If they go back to the sea, they could damage the environment,” said Killy.

He added that he had met with Susi and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Director General Slamet Soebjakto on several occasions to resolve the issues currently faced by cultivators. However, the meetings have not yielded any concrete results.

“We hope Ibu Susi and Pak Slamet will immediately seek a solution because if this continues, it will have a negative impact on the lives of fishermen,” said Killy, adding that farmers in various provinces throughout Indonesia, including in Lampung, West Nusa Tenggara, Bali and Riau Islands, also protested the SIKPI-A ban.

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Thailand: Committee wants 32 dive spots closed due to coral bleaching

Juthathip Lucksanawong, The Nation/ANN AsiaOne 26 Mar 16;

A committee yesterday called for the temporary closure of 32 diving spots in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea in a bid to protect coral against bleaching.

The move is part of a group of four proposals the committee made to relevant authorities.

The panel comprises representatives from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, and the National Policy Committee for Tourism.

Of the diving spots suggested to be closed, 17 are Gulf of Thailand islands including Koh Kangkao, Koh Chang Noi and Koh Talu, and 15 are Andaman Sea islands including the Similans, Phai and Rawi.

Koh Yung, which is part of the Phi Phi Islands and one of the 32 dive spots, has been closed for weeks.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine science academic and a key member of the investigating panel, told The Nation yesterday that coral in some parts of the Gulf of Thailand was being bleached and it was anticipated that 80 per cent of the country's coral were prone to bleaching.

He said the Andaman Sea's temperature was reaching a critical point of 30.5-31 degrees Celsius as a result of climate change and that would lead to bleaching.

The situation prompted the committee to call for action to be taken, he said.

In a bid for the committee's proposal to be effective as soon as possible, Thon said he would utilise his closed ties with concerned authorities.

He urged them to approve the proposal soon.

"We cannot let red tape delay things any longer.

When the proposal is approved, it may be too late to preserve the coral," he said.

efore the proposal was resolved, the committee studied such a move in light of the views of academics, the authorities and entrepreneurs, he said, adding that the proposal was likely to be approved.

The panel urged tourists including divers to be aware of coral sensitiveness and help protect the coral.

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