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- Police raid Marijuana Farm on Koh Phangan
Police on Thursday said they are looking for those responsible for an illicit marijuana farm on a popular tourist island
Around 40 plants, weighed at 60 kilograms in total, were seized this morning when police raided an 1-rai (0.3 acre) farm hidden in the woods, Lt. Col. Thanawat Sukhata, deputy chief of Koh Phangan Police Station, said.
“The plants didn’t grow naturally,” Thanawat offered an insight into the investigation. “There were watering pots, garden hoses, and fertilizers. This suggests they must be planted by someone.”
Police said the cannabis farm was put under surveillance for a month after they were tipped by a local, though no one has yet been marked for arrest since investigators could not see anyone entering the illicit marijuana farm.
After a long wait, police decided to seize the ganja plants and took them to the police station.
The deputy superintendent said police will summon nearby landowners for information since the farm sits on a protected forest.
Thank you to Khao Sod English “Party’s Over, Folks! Police Raid Pot Farm on Koh Phangan” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ Khao Sod English3 September 03 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4255
- Two foreigners in custody for fun-selfies with marine life off Koh Phangan island
Two foreigners – a Hungarian and a Dutch man – were arrested for picking up sea animals off Koh Phangan
The post Two foreigners in custody for fun-selfies with marine life off Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.
Two foreigners – a Hungarian and a Dutch man – were arrested for picking up sea animals off Koh Phangan island to take selfies and a video and posting these on social media, a move that sparked widespread criticism from netizens.
“We tracked down the suspects and identified them as Attila Ott, a Hungarian national, and Francesco Simonetti, from the Netherlands,” Department of Marine and Coastal Resources director-general Sophon Thongdee said. “Ott is a diving instructor and owner of Pink Panther Scuba Dive Club on Koh Phangan, while Simonetti is a chef at Il Barracuda Restaurant & BBQ, also on Koh Phangan island.”
“Salad Beach is a protected area, which makes their actions punishable by a maximum fine of Bt100,000 or one-year imprisonment, or both,” said Sophon.
“Officials also investigated the suspects’ travel history and fined Simonetti for failing to notify immigration officials within 24 hours after changing his address. Meanwhile, Kritiyaporn Khamsing, Ott’s wife, was also fined for failing to notify immigration officials in 24 hours after taking in an immigrant who was allowed to stay in Thailand temporarily,” he said.
“If you find any offenders of marine and coastal resources, please contact call centre 1310 immediately,” Sophon urged the public.
Thank you to The Nation Thailand “ Two foreigners in custody after clicking selfies with sea animals off Koh Pha Ngan” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
Photo credit @ The Nation Thailand
The post Two foreigners in custody for fun-selfies with marine life off Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.2 September 02 2020High Alerthttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4249
- Conservation activists urge post-pandemic tourism reset in Thailand
Conservation activists warn economic reboot could exacerbate environmental problems! It is 9 a.m. on a sultry Sunday morning off the
The post Conservation activists urge post-pandemic tourism reset in Thailand appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.
Conservation activists warn economic reboot could exacerbate environmental problems!
It is 9 a.m. on a sultry Sunday morning off the coast of Koh Phangan, a popular tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand. More than 30 divers are getting ready to plunge into the tropical waters — not to marvel at the underwater world but to spend the day removing kilometers of abandoned fishing nets that lie on the ocean floor, snagged on rocks and coral and suffocating marine life.
These weekly diving trips are organized by Sitthiroj Kaenongsamed, a local diver and environmental activist. “The first time just three of us retrieved 700 kg of nets,” says Sitthiroj. “We realized that there are a lot of nets down there and we keep finding new ones.”
The activists now work with volunteer dive professionals and the Center for Oceanic Research and Education, a local nongovernmental organization known as COREsea. Local businesses donate food and water, and Thailand’s Department of Marine Coastal Research provides gasoline for the boats and air refills for the divers’ tanks.
Dive boat operators and divers have time to help clean up the coast because tourism in Thailand’s Gulf islands has largely disappeared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao welcomed more than 3 million visitors. Since April, the tourists have gone and the region’s ecosystem has been breathing a sigh of relief. But long-term plans are needed to tackle environmental pollution and the eventual return of large numbers of visitors to the islands.
Since tourism dried up, reports of encounters with wild or rare animals have been frequent. Elephants have emerged from the jungle, while sharks, otters and herds of dugong — not seen locally for decades — have made bold appearances on the seashore. Rare leatherback turtles have laid eggs for the first time in years on several beaches on Koh Samui. Off Koh Phangan, local fishermen filmed pink dolphins around their boat.
Even before the pandemic Thailand’s government had started taking modest steps to protect marine biodiversity hotspots. Maya Bay, in the Phi Phi islands, was closed two years ago and is not expected to reopen until 2021. In June, the Ministry of National Resources and Environment announced that all the country’s national parks would be closed for two months a year to give nature some time to recover.
However, Stefan Follows of COREsea says wildlife sightings are not a sign of environmental recovery. “To be clear, nature is not coming back, it is coming out of hiding. Monkeys, turtles and dolphins have become more visible because there are less people, life and noise pollution.”
According to Follows, the main environmental issues plaguing the Gulf islands are their mountains of trash and a lack of fresh water after years of uncontrolled development. “While some glass and plastic is recycled, the rest goes into landfills, on the islands or on the mainland in Surat Thani Province. While it’s good to get the garbage off the islands, this causes yet another footprint.”
Jintamard Sinlapaprommard, who works for both the regional environmental office and Eco Thailand, another NGO, agrees that solid waste garbage remains a challenge. “People collect plastic on the islands, but there’s no money to separate this waste because prices for recycling have collapsed,” she says. “As a result, much of it is currently burned.”
Water is an even more pressing issue, says Follows. “Koh Tao no longer has fresh water and brings in a couple of boat loads a week from Koh Phangan, which suffers sinking groundwater levels but remains self-sufficient. Koh Samui now has a pipeline from the mainland. No one is collecting rainwater.”
Follows suggests charging visitors directly for their water consumption, “Tourists don’t realize that water is a finite resource. To help people understand to be mindful of the amount they use you need to charge them. This can be done by installing water meters in tourist accommodation.”
Sinlapaprommard details the modest official regulations: “We monitor water quality and advise local authorities; we check how hotels with more than 60 rooms process their wastewater, and warn them if their systems are not adequate. Some properties on Koh Samui and in Surat Thani have been fined. But we don’t see much investment from smaller hotels beyond septic tanks.”
Both agree that too much tourism is not sustainable. “When the COVID-19 crisis winds down, tourism authorities should push for quality rather than quantity. The country could benefit from fewer visitors,” says Follows.
Sinlapaprommard says there are already too many hotels on the islands. “On Koh Samui there’s no more room for anything other than resorts,” she says. “And yet local people clear more land to build more and make more money. So conservation is difficult.”
Koh Tao faces similar overcrowding issues. Kirsty Magson is a marine biologist and has been the conservation instructor at New Heaven Dive School on the island since 2015. New Heaven offers a plethora of conservation courses as well as internships for budding marine conservationists. It is also engaged in hands-on cleanup projects, and contributes data to CoralWatch, a not-for-profit citizen science program based at Australia’s University of Queensland that carries out long-term monitoring of reef topography and biodiversity.
“There are 58 dive schools on Koh Tao,” says Magson. “On an island of 21 sq. km they have a substantial impact on the environment. Day trips from other islands add even more divers and don’t follow the same regulations as shops based on Koh Tao. We don’t know how to reduce the number of dive shops; that has to be regulated by the government.”
Magson says there are too many divers even though visitor numbers declined from 500,000 in 2018 to 350,000 last year. “Since 2015 coral abundance and diversity has decreased in some places while there’s life and recovery in other areas. It’s a mixed bag. There have been talks about the closure of beaches, but Koh Tao is not a marine park where this can be enforced. For sure, we would like to stop people from diving in certain places, but then they would just move to other spots if the entire area is not protected.”
COVID-19 has stopped the dive industry in its tracks, but the challenges of the island’s boom remain. “Even now, there is construction going on,” says Magson. “Erosion, building work, weather patterns, wave influence and sedimentation have clearly had an impact on visibility, which has been bad for extended periods.”
The dive industry does appear to have realized the need to protect the island’s main source of income, and some businesses and organizations are running beach and reef cleanups, including New Heaven, Eco Koh Tao, Trash Hero and Island Travel.
On Koh Samui, Lutz Mueller, general manager of the Anantara Bophut resort, says that even Thailand’s recently lifted nationwide curfew had an adverse environmental impact. “During COVID-19, many restaurants switched to delivery and the amount of packaging generated as a consequence is mad,” he says.
Mueller argues that large hotel brands and local authorities have shown environmental commitment to slowing the effects of mass tourism in recent years. “Smoking has been banned on some of the island’s beaches for a couple of years,” he says. “Many hotels, including Anantara, have phased out plastic bottles. All our food, except for some of our meat, is sourced in Thailand. We produce our own compost and fertilizer. Our plant waste goes to feed local elephants and we promote elephant friendly and species-appropriate activities, such as visits to elephant sanctuaries.”
Mueller says the break in tourism is “an opportunity to change our business model, but it is also a risk to take the wrong turn. If everybody agrees not to drop prices too much, we can change the face of tourism on Koh Samui for the better.”
However, with rates down 70% to attract domestic tourists — and the risk of a regional price war to tempt foreign tourists at any cost — conservation may take a back seat. “There is still a lot of construction happening, such as villas, which are the last thing we need here,” says Mueller. “They will attract people who look for privacy in the post-COVID age, but the island’s infrastructure can no longer support this growth.”
Sinlapaprommard adds, “It’s a question of education. That’s why Eco Thailand takes schoolchildren on field trips to learn about respect of the environment, connections between trees and animals, and to get a better appreciation of nature.
“There are kids in Thailand who cannot identify a coconut. And if people don’t learn to appreciate what their country has, they will only think about how to make money out of our natural resources. And they will get their food in 7-Eleven.”
Thank you to Nikkei Asian Review “Conservation activists urge post-pandemic tourism reset in Thailand” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
The post Conservation activists urge post-pandemic tourism reset in Thailand appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.7 August 07 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4236
- All Ferry services to Koh Phangan Island suspended
The provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office has suspended all evening and night ferry services to and from three major
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The provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office has suspended all evening and night ferry services to and from three major tourist islands because of stormy seas in the Gulf of Thailand.
The order, signed by governor Wichawut Jinto, was issued on Sunday in a radio message to all regional marine offices and other agencies responsible for overseeing marine operations.
Mr Wichawut also said 10 foreign diving instructors on Koh Tao would on Monday join the search for four people still missing after the ferry boat Raja 4 capsized off Koh Samui island during a storm on Saturday night.
The 10 instructors also took part in the rescue of 13 members of a junior football team and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district in 2018, the governor said.
They had volunteered to help in the Raja 4 search.
Photo credit @ Supapong Chaolan via Bangkok Post
The post All Ferry services to Koh Phangan Island suspended appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.3 August 03 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4232
- Whale shark spotted at Sail Rock near Koh Phangan island
Another whale shark was recently spotted by divers at Hin Bai, also known as Sail Rock, a popular diving spot
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Another whale shark was recently spotted by divers at Hin Bai, also known as Sail Rock, a popular diving spot south of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan islands in this southern coastal province, according to a local media report.
The shark, about 3-4 metres long, was sighted by a team of diving instructors from Ban’s Diving Koh Tao. It was swimming about 18 metres under water, surrounded by various species of fish.
The scuba divers were very excited by the sighting of the whale, and christened it “Phi Chut” (Spotty) due to the spots on its skin.
In May, divers from Koh Tao Thai Divers came across a larger whale shark while exploring Hin Khieo or Green Rock. That shark was estimated to be 4-6 metres long and was swimming at a depth of 16.3 metres.
In the middle of last year, a whale shark, about 4 metres long, was spotted by divers near Kong Chumphon, another diving spot on Koh Tao, he said.
Photo credit @ Ban’s Diving Koh Tao via Bangkok Post
The post Whale shark spotted at Sail Rock near Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.15 June 15 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4224
- Rare pink dolphins spotted at dive site Sail Rock
Three rare pink dolphins were spotted in the sea between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan islands of this southern coastal
A group of tourists were being brought by tour operators to visit Hin Bai, also known as Sail Rock, a popular diving area between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, when three pink dolphins suddenly appeared in the clear blue sea by their boat — to the great excitement of the tourists.
The tour operators said they were probably the same group of dolphines spotted by local fishermen near Koh Phangan several months ago.
Pink dolphins haven also frequently been spotted near Nang Kam beach and the ferry landing of Don Sak district recently.
Sea turtles were found to have laid eggs at 13 spots on Koh Samui and a whale shark was sighted near Don Sak and in the Ang Thong archipelago. These were signs of improvement in the environment, the governor said.
Photo credit @ Supapong Chaolan via Bangkok Post7 June 07 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4219
- Spanish man allegedly stabbed a Chilean man to death on Koh Phangan
A Spanish man has allegedly stabbed a Chilean man to death on Koh Phangan in the southern province of Thailand.
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A Spanish man has allegedly stabbed a Chilean man to death on Koh Phangan in the southern province of Thailand.
Police were reported at 1am on Saturday. When they arrived at a rented house in tambon Ban Tai, they found signs of a struggle inside and the body of the Chilean man, 41, with a knife stuck on the left chest and multiple stab wounds on the torso.
Chang San Yu, 31, the victim’s Chinese girlfriend who lived with him, was in shock.
She later told police while she and the Chilean man were sleeping, the Spaniard knocked on the door. When her boyfriend opened it, the visitor, armed with a knife, allegedly stabbed him. Both struggled and the Spanish man kept stabbing him until he fell down and died in the kitchen. The attacker then escaped with the motorcycle parked in front of a nearby house, she said.
She added she did not know whether the two men had a brawl before.
After police located the Spaniard, they caught him when his motorcycle fell into a ditch during a pursuit. They took him for questioning at Koh Phangan police station. The Spaniard gave confusing statements about someone trying to kill him.
Police records showed the man had stolen at least three motorcycles before.
He was charged with premeditated murder, carrying weapons in public places and stealing.
Photo credit @ Supapong Chaolan via Bangkok Post
The post Spanish man allegedly stabbed a Chilean man to death on Koh Phangan appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.10 May 10 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4215
- Russians caught partying on Koh Phangan in violation of the emergency decree curfew
Seven Russian tourists were arrested and charged with violating the emergency decree curfew while partying on the island of Koh
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Neighbours said they were being annoyed by a group of foreigners holding a party and playing music very loudly.
When the police, led by Pol Col Pisit Wisetwong, arrived, they found the seven Russians, men and women, in the house. An amount of marijuana was also found.
Photo credit @ Supapong Chaolan via Bangkok Post
The post Russians caught partying on Koh Phangan in violation of the emergency decree curfew appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.5 May 05 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4211
- Rare pink dolphins come out to play off Koh Phangan island
Local fishermen off the coast of Koh Phangan island filmed a rare encounter with pink dolphins, which scientists say are
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Local fishermen off the coast of Koh Phangan island filmed a rare encounter with pink dolphins, which scientists say are becoming bolder in the absence of tourists during the coronavirus pandemic.
The footage shows three pink dolphins swimming close to a fishing boat in calm waters off Koh Pha-Ngan, an island in southeastern Thailand.
“I was so impressed, because I never imagined I would get to see pink dolphins,” said Chaiyot Saedan, the fisherman who provided the video to Reuters.
Thailand’s pink dolphins are a subspecies of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union For Conservation of Nature.
There are around 150 of these pink dolphins living around the Gulf of Thailand, according to Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center.
“Due to less traffic with the coronavirus lockdown, dolphins now have a more comfortable habitat, and that’s why they tend to show up more,” Kongkiat told Reuters over the phone.
Tourism in Thailand has plunged more than 76% in March from a year earlier, as the country was hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Thank you to Reuters “Rare pink dolphins come out to play off Thai island” which was brought to us by Google Alerts.
The post Rare pink dolphins come out to play off Koh Phangan island appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.30 April 30 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4205
- Koh Phangan will be the pilot destinations to welcome high-end tourists globally?
The Tourism and Sports Ministry is floating an idea to provide long-stay packages to foreign tourists who are seeking disease-free
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The Tourism and Sports Ministry is floating an idea to provide long-stay packages to foreign tourists who are seeking disease-free destinations.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said that while international tourists are expected to gradually return after the domestic market, Thailand has to come up with a more appropriate marketing strategy to cope with the new norm of travellers.
“The ministry is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to set up a model which will attract specific group of travellers to visit chosen areas,” Mr Phiphat said.
As those locations are reachable via limited gateways, the provincial authorities can ensure the screening of incoming guests and provide more safety prevention against the possible import of the coronavirus compared to other major destination, such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
Mr Phiphat said tourists who want to spend at least one month in Thailand have to provide health certificates and strictly comply with every screening and health measures by Thai health authorities.
Currently, TAT offices abroad are reaching out to the long-stay market which normally spends more than average tourists, while four-star and five-star hotels are promoting the packages to their regular guests.
“The COVID-19 outbreak allows Thai tourism to shift focus to quality tourists rather than quantity,” Mr Phiphat said.
The disease-free tourism packages are set to launch during the last quarter this year which is the time tourists from western countries usually seek warmer climes.
When the coronavirus pandemic in Thailand has been brought under control, international travellers must not be the cause of a second wave of the infection, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
The new health screening practices for tourists before flying to Thailand may become the standard in the future such as an idea of animmunity passport or risk-free certificate.
Mr Yuthasak said once domestic tourism resumes after lifting the lockdown measures, locals will travel in smaller groups.
Land transportation will be a popular choice, thanks to cheaper oil prices, he said.
The economic recession and drought will cause people to be more concerned about spending, so the market of budget travellers is expected to grow.
Millennials and female travellers will be the first group of independent tourists to travel.
“If the tourism industry cannot bounce back stronger from the downturn, it is difficult to restore the overall economy,” Mr Yuthasak said.
Photo credit @ Pornprom Satrabhaya via Bangkok Post
The post Koh Phangan will be the pilot destinations to welcome high-end tourists globally? appeared first on Koh Phangan Island News.29 April 29 2020General Newshttps://kohphangannews.org/?p=4202