The underwater world is an attraction that draws thousands upon thousands of tourists to the south of Thailand. Although the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea are both important resources for food production, tourism, and transportation, unfortunately, there are some irresponsible locals and tourists who are prepared to put their waste and garbage in the sea, not only destroying the seas natural beauty but also affecting the sea’s marine life who mistake the garbage for food and eat it. It is now evident that the problem with waste and garbage left in the sea is beginning to affect marine tourism, and due to this, government agencies, local government organizations, institutes, and diving operators have recently been holding activities which have seen large numbers of people diving to collect the garbage.
Go Eco Phuket is one group who is actively involved in marine conservation and is continuously trying to motivate people to participate in activities to help reduce the amount of waste and garbage in the sea. The group is supported by Thai Navy Region 3, Phuket Marine Biological Centre, Phuket Marine Police, Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket Office, Phuket Provincial Administration Organization and around 120 private businesses. It is Go Eco Phuket’s aim to connect conservation and tourism to build a community of divers enthusiastic and passionate about protecting our ocean.
Dive Against Debris
Phuket’s first ‘Dive Against Debris’ event was held on September 30th 2012 as part of the worldwide September’s Debris Month of Action, and it saw 13 dive boats and over 650 divers and beach cleaners take part in the biggest Dive Against Debris event in the world. At the end of the event, an incredible 15 tons of debris was removed, this was made up of fishing nets (one of which alone weighed 4.5 tonnes), plastic & glass bottles, steel cord and many other items!
After the event, the divers and Phuket community partied the night away at a sponsored event which saw famous local and national Thai bands drop in to show their support. $4,000 was raised, along with a generous donation of 30,000THB, for future Go Eco Phuket activities as well.
It was an amazing effort and many of Phuket’s media covered the event to help raise awareness of the importance of caring for the marine environment, as well highlighting the great work divers do cleaning up the waters they care so much about.
Go Eco Phuket aim to continue with regular Dive Against Debris surveys as part of their local actions and if you’re interested in joining and supporting them or for further information about them check them out at www.facebook.com/GoEcoPhuket or http://goecophuket.weebly.com/.
The origin of Go Eco Phuket
Mr. Jirayu Naragoonphitak is one of the coordinators of Go Eco Phuket and he told Phuketindex.com more about how the group started and their mission.
“Phuket is surrounded by 37 small islands which are all open for reef diving and are part of what makes Phuket a world class tourist destination. However, the amount of waste that is now being dropped in the sea has started to affect Phuket’s marine tourism industry. Go Eco Phuket was set up, with assistance from government agencies, local government organizations, institutes, and diving operators, to start projects that would see some of this waste taken out of the sea. It was also set up to share our concerns about critical issues facing the underwater world and to promote sustainable tourism.”
“Go Eco Phuket and all of its members want to connect conservation and tourism to build a community of divers enthusiastic and passionate about protecting our ocean. We want to continue to work together as a community: diving businesses, local businesses and government authorities, by holding activities that draw attention to our ocean’s silent killer. We are already starting to see impressive results; however, it’s important that we continue to educate and motivate people and to make sure we have the support of the media to assist with the promoting of our projects. Not only that, we need to make sure that we can spread our knowledge onto the next generations, this is the most important group as they will be our society’s future.
“So far our group has received great support from those who its need it from and we appreciate the contributions that all of the people have put into our projects and who have helped them to happen” said Mr.Jirayu.
Our View – Go Eco Phuket Volunteers
I’m a housewife and have children who are growing up on Phuket Island; I think that we are lucky to be able to live here because the nature is beautiful and it’s a really delightful place. However, I do feel the trash which is both on the land and in the sea more, and we see more of every day, makes the place less appealing. When we heard about Go Eco Phuket we did not hesitate to join because it is my desire that my children grow up close to a beautiful sea all their life.”
I have worked in a tour company, associated with Phuket’s tourism industry, for over 10 years and am lucky enough to have boats that bring tourists to the surrounding islands. One of the biggest changes I have seen in this time is how much waste is in the sea. Sometimes we also see large piles of rubbish washed up to the shores of the islands. I am concerned that if our tourists see this they will want to come back again. This is what motivated me to join the group Go Eco Phuket and to participate in bringing back the island’s natural beauty. Personally, I feel very proud to be taking care of Phuket’s sea.”
“Most of Phuket’s revenue comes from tourism and it is the duty of everyone to take care of nature. I am working in the hotel industry and I can see the number of visitors who stay here is becoming less. In my spare time I join Go Eco Phuket and help with their projects. It is great groups who have some really good projects in helping with the cleanliness of Phuket’s .”