The Rain is Sweet in Chao Mai
By Anoulack Chanthavisouk, Vientiane Times, Laos
Since the " Raindrops" came to Had Chao Mai village, the
sea-grass and the dugongs have returned to its shores, according to a
"At the beginning the villagers didn’t know
what the meaning of conservation was," said Mrs. Meeya Hawa, committee
member of the Small Scale Fisheries Federation of Southern
When it arrived in Had Chao Mai, the "Raindrop", or
Yadfon, a Thai rural development non-governmental organization based in
Trang province, took residents to the nearby village of Laem Makham to
introduce them to turtle conservation. The meaning of Yadfon is
After they understood the principle, they were
able to continue the conservation work by themselves, said Mrs.
Sea grass provides food for sea turtles and also
dugongs. "It’s like a supermarket for villagers," said Mrs.
Once sea-grass was protected by the villagers, it grew
back. In 1993 dugongs reappeared off the coast.
appreciated the important relationship between sea grass and marine
species, villagers in Had Chao Mai stopped using fishing gear such as push
nets, which sweep the sea floor and destroy sea grass.
Trawlers and push nets are mainly operated by commercial
fishermen, not by villagers, according to Mrs. Meeya.
large-scale fishing also now takes place at night. The commercial
fishermen use bright lights to attract fish, which they kill with cooking
gas, according to Mrs. Meeya. The gas also damages coral
Coral reefs are turning yellow because of damage by
gas according to divers.
Last year eleven dolphins were
killed by the same fishing method, according to Meeya. Fishery officials
claim the dolphins were killed by hook fishing. However, Meeya insisted
that if the dolphins had been killed by hook fishing, only one or two
would have died.
Later a dugong was found dead. Villagers say
its skin was also discoloured and believe it had been affected by
Since Yadfon started work at Had Chao Mai, villagers who
went to the cities to work because of the decline in fish, have come back
to carry on fishing, according to Meeya. "To live together in one family
is Had Chao Mai villagers’ hope," she