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Country Overview

The Thai coastline in the BOBLME is along the Andaman Sea on the west of the peninsula and extends about 740 km from the border with Myanmar at the north and with Malaysia at the south and covers a marine area of 112,498.9 km2. Predominant ecosystems along the coastline include mangrove forests, sea grass beds and fringing coral reefs (Juntarashote, 2003) There are approximately 400 hard coral species in Thai waters, and total coverage is estimated at 78km2 along this coastline, of which 62% is under the protection of a marine park (Yeemin, 2005).

Mangrove coverage along the Andaman coastline is approximately 1,747.62 km2, of which 50% is in the provinces of Phang-nga, Satun, Trang, Krabi and Ranong. Sea grass bed coverage is around 94.78 km2, of which about 34% is within the boundaries of a marine park area. Eleven species (there are only 58 species worldwide) of sea grasses are found in the Andaman Sea.

Fisheries products play a critical role in Thai food security, and account for more than 50% of annual protein intake across the country (Thailand Report on Protected Areas). The marine capture industry contributes significantly to GDP, and was valued at $1.57 billion in 2004 (Panjarat, 2008). The fisheries of the Andaman Sea account for one third of total marine capture in the country (Juntarashote, 2003).

MPAs in Thailand

MPAs in Thailand are characterized by high biodiversity, and are considered as some of the best SCUBA dive sites in the world (ICEM, 2003). There are five types of protected areas in Thailand. These include national parks, national marine parks, wildlife sanctuaries (also known as wildlife conservation areas), forest parks and non-hunting zones (UP MSI et al., 2002).

Other than these, some MPAs have also been designated, internationally, as Ramsar sites and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (ICEM, 2003; BOBLME, 2011). Along the Andaman coastline, there is one non-hunting area and one UNESCO biosphere reserve. Four existing parks carry the status of ‘Ramsar sites’, and four are listed as ‘ASEAN Heritage Parks’ (with some overlap). The main fisheries spawning grounds are located in Phang Nga Bay and its adjacent areas, which covers most of Phang Nga Province, East of Phuket, West of Krabi and Northern part of Trang (BOBLME, 2011). The map above shows the distribution of MPA in Thailand and MPA database lists the compiled MPA in Thailand.

Management responsibilities for protected areas have changed hands repeatedly over the past few decades. Historically, the Royal Forest Department (RFD) served as the primary agency responsible for marine park management. Within the RFD, the National Park Division was charged with managing both terrestrial and marine parks. This changed in 1993, however, following the formation of the Marine National Park Division (MNPD) (Sethapun, 2000). Management responsibilities shifted again following public sector reforms in late 2002, during which a number of new, independent agencies were established. These included the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), which is currently responsible for the protection and conservation of protected areas, water resources, mineral resources, marine and coastal resources, and environmental quality. In addition to and within MONRE, implementing agencies include:

  • Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (implementing agency for MPA management).
  • Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (implementing agency for general environmental policy).
  • Royal Forest Department (forest production in areas surrounding MPAs).
  • Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) (responsible for conservation of marine and coastal resources).
  • BOBLME. 2011. Status of Marine Protected Areas and Fish Refugia in the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem. BOBLME – 2011 – Ecology – 10.
  • Juntarashote, K. 2003. Country report for BOBLME Programme: Thailand. BOBLME, FAO GCP/ RAS/ 179/ WBG, Chennai, India.
  • ICEM, 2003. Thailand National Report on Protected Areas and Development. Review of Protected Areas and Development in the Lower Mekong River Region, Indooroopilly, Queensland, Australia. 131 pp.
  • Panjarat, Sampan. 2008. Sustainable fisheries in the Andaman Sea Coast of Thailand. Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, the United Nations. New York. 119 pp
  • Perera, N. and Asha de Vos. 2007. Marine protected areas in Sri Lanka: A review. Environmental Management, 40 (727-738).
  • Phongsuwan, N. 2012. Thailand Latest Progress and the next steps on MPA management. The 8th ICRI East Asia Regional Workshop. 3-5 September 2012, Jeju, Korea.
  • Sethapun T. 2000. Marine National Parks in Thailand. Accessed October 2013 Available online at:
  • Yeemin, T. 2005. “Thailand”. In: Status of Coral Reefs in East Asian Seas Region: 2004. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, and WorldFish Center and Japan Wildlife Research Center. Tokyo, Japan. 200 pp.
  • World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). 2013. last accessed October 2013.
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