Underwater condos for fishes

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Two hundred kilometers of seabed off Thailand’s southern provinces of Narathiwat and Pattani was once the rich source of fishes which had fed more than 150,000 fishermen and their family members. 

Unfortunately, the unsparing use of trawling nets has negatively affected the marine environment and ecological system.

Desperate inshore fishermen had no choice but to go further from shore for fishing. Some decided to petition Her Majesty the Queen and sought her help.

The Fisheries Department surveyed the seabed adjacent to the two provinces and found that it was mostly flat—definitely not an inviting habitat for fishes, corals and sea fans. How about building underwater condos for marine lives? That was how artificial corals, comprised of old army tanks, railroad trains and garbage trucks, were placed on the seabed.

Two years later, the sea condos became lively communities for fishes, marine animals and corals. Better than that, the fishermen were all smiles again. They can fish close to shore, saving fuel, and on average the catch has increased by 20 per cent.

Marofi Lotanyong, leader of the Inshore Fisheries Network, said the artificial coral has greatly increased the population of marine life and the deteriorating seabed has turned lively again.

“The army tank is a condo for fishes, many of which returned after disappearing for years. Fishes are also abundant outside the artificial corals zone,” he said.

Naengnoi Yossunthorn, founder of Save Our Sea, said the giant objects making the artificial corals have also deterred fishing with trawling nets.

“After two years,” she added, “many sea objects have attached to the surface of the tanks, trains and garbage trucks. Natural coral and sea fans will soon stick over them. It’s so beautiful with diverse species of fish inside a train.”