Bag Ban Credited for Cleaner ‘James Bond Island’

PHANG NGA — Ao Phang Nga National Park has seen less litter in its turquoise waters since the park implemented a ban on plastic bags at the beginning of April, the park director said Monday.

A month-long ban on plastic bags in the park in southern Thailand with the iconic limestone towers featured in the 1974 James Bond film “The Man With the Golden Gun” has seen a considerable reduction in litter, according to officials Monday.

“We’ve seen a large change in trash in the area under our jurisdiction,” Worapot Lomlim, head of the park said. “Mostly, foreigners visiting the park don’t litter anyway. It’s Thai people that litter, so we had to approach the vendors in the area and ban plastic bags.”

The plastic bag ban is a joint measure by the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and Chulalongkorn University. The next step, said Worapot, is to tackle the problem of plastic and glass bottles as well as to enforce the 1,000-baht fine on bringing styrofoam into the park.

A tourist lounges in a canoe while a park official reaches to pick up trash in Ao Phang Nga National Park Monday.

Worapot said that no food is allowed to be sold near the Khao Phing Kan and Ko Tapu islands, also known as James Bond Island – only souvenir stalls.

“There’s really no need for the vendors to use plastic bags, so we had them switch to paper. Later we’ll hand out cloth bags,” he said.

Even vendors bringing in their lunch have been told to bring their food in tiffin carriers or lunch boxes.

While Worapot says there is a similar plastic bag ban in the Phi Phi Islands in Krabi, he hopes all national parks – especially the Mu Ko Surin National Park and Similan Islands National Park – will say no to plastic.

“By regulation, plastic littering is already banned in parks, but it’s enforced in few. It’s hard to control, especially if there’s a large number of tourists,” Worapot said.

Meanwhile, 133 kilograms of trash – mostly fishing apparatus – was found by 35 volunteer drivers in Koh Kai Nai and Koh Kai Nok Saturday and Sunday also in Phang Nga.

“People operating fishing boats, speedboats, tourist boats and diving boats, please take care not to litter because it will damage marine life and coral reefs,” Suchart Ratanaruangsri, director of the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management said Monday.

A park official fishes out a plastic water bottle Monday from Ao Phang Nga National Park while tourists lounge.
A park official fishes out a plastic water bottle Monday from Ao Phang Nga National Park while a tourist looks on.

 

Volunteer divers with trash foraged from Koh Kai Nai and Koh Kai Nok in Phang Nga Monday. Photo: Matichon
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Asaree Thaitrakulpanich can be reached at asaree@khaosodenglish.com and followed on Twitter at @Asaree.