Together with Flora and Fauna International (FFI) we helped conduct a coral reef survey and monitoring for management workshop from 21-27 November 2012 in Phuket, Thailand. This workshop was for selected Myanmar delegates from various government agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). FFI is an international NGO with numerous biodiversity and resource management initiatives in Southeast Asia. This training was part of their Marine conservation initiative.
FFI leverages on the ‘in-kind’ contributions of experts to support their projects. We helped FFI by providing the technical expertise for the training. This training aims at empowering government and NGO participants with the technical knowledge to conduct coral reef survey and monitoring activities.
The workshop was successfully concluded with five Myanmar and two Cambodian delegates trained in coral reef survey techniques. A two-week field expedition to the Myeik Archipelago in Southern Myanmar will follow in January 2013. The expedition will provide the first ever comprehensive information on contemporary coral reef areas in Myanmar. It will also be beneficial to any groups initiating coastal projects in Myanmar.
The coral reefs of Myanmar and the Myeik Archipelago
The coral reefs of Myanmar are perhaps the least studied and documented reefs in the world. The Myeik Archipelago (also known as the Mergui Archipelago) consists of over 800 islets. It comprises 12,500 km2 of land and 1,700 km2 of coral reefs. The reefs include:
- fringing reefs
- submerged pinnacles and seamounts
- limestone caves
- sheer and sloping rock walls
- boulder-strewn sand bottoms with an unknown number of coral species
It is the prime diving destination in Myanmar. There is a general consensus that the coral reefs of Myanmar are generally in very good to excellent condition. However there are also certain rising concerns. Destructive fishing (including trawling and long-line fishing as well as blast fishing) threatens these precious ecosystems. A lack of legislation compounds the problem. Urgent action is needed to prevent the country’s coral reefs from declining to unsustainable levels.
The workshop will be an important building block in developing the necessary awareness and resources to protect Myanmar’s coral reefs before it is too late. We are effectively assisting in developing the regional reef building capacity, by sharing our knowledge and expertise.