Managing recreational diving in temporary closures following the 2010 coral bleaching event in the Andaman Sea
The severe coral bleaching event in 2010 led to coral mortality in many dive sites of Thailand. This study focused on management strategies for degraded recreational dive sites following the 2010 coral bleaching event in a marine national park in the Andaman Sea. Popular dive sites in marine national parks such as East of Eden and Ao Faiwab in Mu Ko Similan National Park have been temporarily closed since 2010 in order to build resilience and to enhance coral recovery. The long-term coral reef monitoring program showed that live coral covers at both dive sites increased slightly over the last five years. Coral recruitment rates were also relatively low. As numbers of recreational divers in the Andaman Sea are increasing, the Mu Ko Similan National Park management are considering establishing new dive sites in the park. However we recommend that active coral restoration in small controlled areas for recreational diving should be carried out instead of creating new dive sites. Raising public awareness is also urgently required intensely for coral reef conservation in Thailand in the period of increasing human and climate change impacts.