Marine experts collaborate to brainstorm on setting up long-term marine and coastal resources monitoring for Thailand’s MPAs

18 February 2012 | News story

Over 25 Thai marine and coastal experts from relevant government agencies and universities brainstormed ideas for a long-term marine and coastal resources monitoring methodology for Thai Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on 17 February 2012, at the Maruay Garden Hotel in Bangkok. The event was supported by the “Evaluating and Improving the Effectiveness of Thailand’s MCPAs” (MEE) and “Strengthening Andaman Marine Protected Areas Network” (SAMPAN) projects.    

Dr. Songtam Suksawang, director of the Research Division of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), and a key coordinator of the MEE project, gave a presentation on DNP’s concerted efforts to build the capacity of its MPA staff for improving management effectiveness.

‘The recent MEE draft report on evaluating the management effectiveness of Thailand’s marine and coastal protected areas recommended, amongst other things, that internal capacity for research and monitoring should be improved. This workshop is intended to improve our skills and training in marine and coastal resources monitoring’ said Dr Songtam.  

Thailand’s marine and coastal resources, like others around the world, are coming under increasing environmental and anthropogenic pressures. Although conserving these resources is the responsibility of various government agencies in Thailand, many areas are protected and managed by DNP. In the past, one of the greatest constraints on effective management of natural resources in Thailand has been the lack of information on the drivers of resource decline. Integrated research and monitoring programmes have also been absent. Scientific studies and surveys had been conducted sporadically throughout Thailand’s national parks with little consistency in methodology or large-scale experimental design.

Despite many scientific studies of Thailand’s marine and coastal resources, limited funding and in some cases a lack of interest mean that few areas have been studied continually. Repeated studies are needed to evaluate the health of marine and coastal resources, and to allow MPA managers to adapt to changing circumstances. The gap in regular scientific surveying also can and will be filled by long-term monitoring by park staff.

Hence, marine scientists, university researchers and MPA managers, along with officers of DNP and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), were invited to participate in the meeting on 17 February to establish a standard methodology for marine and coastal resource monitoring for national park staff under DNP.

Several priority research areas were discussed and elaborated as a basis for monitoring. In terms of methodologies, the photo belt transect method was identified as the most suitable for monitoring the status of coral reefs and marine invertebrates. The fish visual census was recommended for monitoring the status of coral reef fish, with six categories of target species identified based on trophic level and other criteria (carnivorous fish, herbivorous fish, planktivorous fish, common fish, rare fish and ornamental fish). Participants also identified and selected parameters and sampling methods for water quality in MPAs.  

As a follow up to the meeting, a marine and coastal resources monitoring course curriculum will be developed and demonstrated at a workshop with MPA staff in May 2012.

For more information please contact: 
Radda Larpnun, Programme Officer, IUCN Thailand, Tel: +66 2 2620529-31 (ext. 224), Mobile: +66 86 5946710, 0856641116 or email: radda.larpnun@iucn.org

 


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.