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31 January 2015

The Moken Archipelago

 

A letter from the founder:

 

Dear friends, past and future participants, researchers, lovers of Nature and the Sea,

 

These past 2 years have been very difficult years for me as due to lack of funds, of commitment of engaged persons and of the unexpected, fast and terrible loss of an important stakeholder and a dear friend, our operations in the magnificent Mergui Archipelago had to be suspended. I only mention as a sideline that I am now well over retirement age and my health is not what it used to be. The sad part is that many people would still like to be involved and have applied and we had to turn them down.
That was the bad news; let's forget the bad and proceed.

It would be a pity if all the good work we have done in the past years including the initial kickstarting of awareness towards the public, large NGOs, and Authorities on the plight of the Archipelago would come to an end. There are now, since the political changes in Myanmar and the end of the embargo, many more Institutions involved, but I feel that we, EcoSwiss, may still be necessary.


Many institutions have now recognized the Mergui Archipelago, named after the town Myeik on the Northern shores, as a very important biodiversity site.
This should have been done 15 or 20 years ago, before commercial fishing and tourism started but at the time it was politically impossible. However, much work is left to be done.

To really protect the islands or at least a good part of the archipelago, measures have to be put in place also over the borders, between Thailand and Myanmar. A real assessment of the actual conditions has to be made and not least , the original local population , the Moken seafarers has to be protected and empowered.

Since many years we have been talking about a UNESCO World Heritage protection for the islands; it seems that now the Myanmar Government has also come to this conclusion and have applied.


But there is so much more to do; so, in our little way, we think that to achieve the above goals, we should take the following 3 steps and work towards them :

  1. Promote the formation of a Transborder Marine Protected Area between the Thai National Parks (Surin, Similan, Laem Son) and Lampi Nat.Park in Myanmar.

  2. Start an association between nature minded Operators in the Islands. We propose M.A.N.T.A. (M. Archipelago Nature Tourism Association)

  3. Rename the Archipelago, not an easy task to, The MOKEN ARCHIPELAGO

The good news is that a young American Geographer, William Ruzek,has come to see me with a proposal of mapping the Islands, above and under water, starting from the southern Myanmar (Burma) border with Thailand.


This is exactly in line with what I had in mind for a long time: we need the mapping for future memory, we need to know how things look now to know if they will improve or deteriorate in future, we need to know if and where dynamite fishing or anchoring have damaged the Islands and reefs, where there are still turtle nests, what birds are there now, if there are dolphins or sharks or whales or dugongs... before real tourism starts.

We still have the boat, the base in AoKhoei and this will be at Will's disposal for free for at least a year.
But operating a yacht, even a simple 45 foot one like SeaNOMAD is not cheap.
William has already applied for some small grants which we hope will come through. But we need more, we need your help.

The problem is the initial capital to guarantee the start and continuity of operations for the first season (Nov. 2015 to April 2016): boat repairs, equipment (sonar, GPS, diving gear, crew, overheads, running costs, fees and permits; we therefore need you, and all people interested to help us.

How can you help?

- participate as an eco-volunteer or guest on a sailing expedition
- book an expedition well in advance
- organize a Moken Archipelago Cruise with a group of friends
- help us with fundraising by mailing this and our webpage to your friends, FB etc.


 

We hope that with your help we can restart the crucial research and preservation of the Moken Archipelago for future generations. 

 

-Luca Schueli

25 April 2013

The Return of Reef Check!

Despite squals,, high seas and lost anchors the MABR Reef Check expedition team returned safe and sound with all having had a great experience. We surveyed some old Reef Check sites as well as new ones, so gathered some good data which we'll get collated and uploaded soon. Photos are on our facebook page.

28 March 2013

Reef Check Expediton

10-19 April 2013

Our 2013 Reef Check is now full and departs for crystal blue waters shortly. We'll be posting photos when we get back. Anyone interested in a Reef Check expedition for 2014 check out the info here.

19 March 2013

Herpetology Expedition

6-15 March 2013

Our herpetology expedition aboard SeaNomad was a great experience for everyone. We're still assessing the wildlife photos and data, but there are a few photos of the expedition on our facebook page.

Previous expeditions / cruises pics