Abundant fresh seafood amidst a backdrop of sandy white beaches and crystal clear waters – that’s what comes to mind when thinking of Thailand. It comes as no surprise then that tourism is a thriving trade.
Preserving the beauty and rich diversity is foremost on the mind of the locals, many of whom depend on it for their livelihood. ExxonMobil affiliates in Thailand supports conservation efforts by organising beach clean-ups at popular tourist spots and replenishing fish and shrimp stocks through volunteer efforts by employees at the Sriracha refinery and partnerships with local organizations.
“By introducing fish and shrimp into the sea, we are restoring their stocks to keep up with consumer demand” said Amornsak Panyacharoensri, head of the Ao-Udom Fisherman Group, which operates near the Esso Sriracha Refinery.
ExxonMobil worked with members of the group to make artificial fish habitats, using rope threads to replicate kelp. These ropes attract small fish and even commercially valuable ones such as barracudas, groupers and grey snappers. It has a positive impact on the ecosystem and is welcomed by local fishermen.
And to further support Thailand’s rich ecosystem, we are working with the Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Center to restore mangrove forests, which help protect shorelines and filter water. ExxonMobil has built check dams to keep the watershed forest appropriately watered and actually provide villagers with water for irrigation.
Meanwhile, the conservation effort is spreading to the area’s next generation, thanks in part to Burapha University’s Institute of Marine Science. The research institute, which doubles as an education centre and public aquarium, welcomes more than 400,000 visitors a year and offers students and the interested public a chance to view the underwater habitat up close.
“We are a lifelong learning centre that goes beyond fish tanks,” said Dr Rawiwan Watanadilok, director, Institute of Marine Science at Burapha University. “We’d like children to understand how their actions impact the world as a whole.”
And understand they do. Volunteers – young and old – are hard at work, inspired to protect the sea and safeguard their future for generations to come.