Sat, Apr 18, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Divers should avoid reefs, society says

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Recreational divers should stay out of the waters off Kenting National Park in the coming days to avoid disrupting the annual coral spawning, the head of the Taiwanese Coral Reef Society (TCRS) said on Thursday.

Coral spawning has become a famous attraction for divers in recent years, but TCRS president Cheng Ming-hsiu (鄭明修) said domestic conditions have “not yet matured sufficiently” for local divers to experience the spectacle.

Cheng said the coral reefs around Kenting have begun spawning, an annual spectacle that is expected to reach its peak this weekend.

REGULATIONS

Although Kenting National Park Administration has failed to draw up any regulations governing observation of the coral spawning, Cheng said recreational divers should not try to observe the annual spectacle.

For one thing, he said, the park administration has not set a cap on the number of people allowed to dive in the area each day to view the coral spawning.

Moreover, Cheng went on, the spawning is best observed at night, and night diving requires advanced training.

“Without proper training and equipment, divers are likely to sustain injuries or damage the coral and other marine resources,” Cheng said.

Another problem lies in the fact that no local insurance companies are willing to sell insurance policies to local divers at the moment, with the exception of Cathay Life Insurance Co, which provides coverage for marine researchers with Academia Sinica.

Cheng said some local divers have joined dive trips arranged by local operators to experience the coral spawning in recent years, posing a threat to coral reef ecosystems, as well as their own safety.

LIVE FOOTAGE

To discourage people from diving in the area during the spawning period, Cheng said his association will cooperate with Public Television Service to broadcast live footage of the coral spawning today at 8pm.

“Our underwater camera crew will present every aspect of the spawning of the coral, as well as the reef’s fish and invertebrates, to TV viewers,” Cheng said.

He also urged the government to revise the civil service recruitment system so that marine biologists and ecologists can be employed to better protect the nation’s marine resources and ecosystems.

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