Drop in seahorse population prompts action for conservation

Thailand is now initiating a project to revive the seahorse population which is dropping significantly during the past few years with aim of conservation and creating public awareness of this marine animal species which is facing extinction if no action is taken.

The project was announced at a joint press conference yesterday held by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, and the Department of Fisheries.

According to Mr Kasemsun Chinnawaso, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and chairman of Thailand Committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), seahorse are economically valuable species in Asia, particularly when they are used in traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of several sickness and for improvement of sex drive.

They are also used to produce key chains, and for raising as pets.

Most of these seahorse are caught from nature, he said.

As demand for seahorses is rising, there is also growing concern in many countries that its population in natural environment will shrink rapidly.

This prompted CITES to list seahorses under Appendix II of CITES for protection and conservation.

According to the statistics of the Department of Fisheries, Thailand exported 1.2 tons of seahorses in 2013, 1 ton in 2014, 0.95 ton in early 2015.

But in late 2015, Thailand suspended granting of seahorse export temporarily after CITES voicing concern over the alarming export volume of Thailand.

Under the initiative project to revive seahorse population, 100 seahorses of the Hippocampus kuda specie

bred by the Department of Fisheries will be released into natural environment on September 17 at Yong Lum, and Koh Muk in the Hat Chao Mai marine park of Trang province.

Besides, the project will also encourage public awareness of the seahorse conservation by protecting ecosystem of the sea and cooperation in suppressing seahorse trade.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)