A coral reef off the coast of Pyin Kauk village in Manaung Township, Arakan State, is in need of systematic conservation, local residents say.
The reef stretches for more than 3 acres along the local beachfront. Civil society organisations in the village are arranging to prevent it from being destroyed, but they want the government to cooperate and assist in the effort, said local villager Ko Tin Maung Htwe.
“As more visitors arrived in the area, more corals were broken because people climbed on them. We worry that the coral reef will be destroyed one day. We are planning to provide education programming about the coral reef,” he said.
The reef has been a point of pride for the village for many years, but it is not well known or popular with outsiders — yet. After images of the picturesque coral reef made the rounds on Facebook in April, however, villagers say hundreds of people visit the area daily.
“Previously, a small number of people would come and see the coral reef. Today, a lot of people visit the area every day. They need to discard their waste systematically so as not to damage the coral reef,” said villager Ko Kyaw Lin Oo.
Some visitors have chipped off pieces of coral to take home with them, villagers said.
Coral reefs are habitat for numerous marine species, and in Myanmar are primarily found in the Myeik archipelago, coastal Tanintharyi Region, and to a lesser extent waters off Arakan State.