UNDP supports marine conservation efforts in Thailand

17 Dec 2009

Chao Lao Bay was once regarded as an untouched jewel nestled on the Eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand. But, like many coastlines in Thailand, the past two decades has seen the continued decline of its spectacular marine habitat because of over-fishing, over-development and the resulting pollution.

As a result, fish stocks plummeted, directly impacting the livelihoods of small scale fishermen who have fished the Bay for generations. But with the help of a small grant from UNDP, the fishermen have started to rehabilitate the Bay, using local knowledge and technology. Already the community has replanted mangrove forests, initiated a coral reef protection project and constructed homes – or ‘crab condos’ – for pregnant blue swimmer crabs so that they can safely breed.

Fish stocks are returning to healthy, sustainable levels once again and long-lost marine species are returning to the rehabilitated habitats. As 20 years of environmental degradation is reversed, local incomes have increased by half. The revitalization of the coral reefs have brought tourists back to the area and a 40 percent increase in the number of blue swimming crabs is saving valuable petrol used for fishing vessels.

In tandem with the efforts of the community, the local government has passed a law ensuring coastal conservation activities. Additionally, UNDP is helping participants to promote the project throughout Thailand as a successful example that bears repeating and similar projects have already begun to pop up elsewhere.