The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources has banned fishing and boats from anchoring in sensitive areas of five provinces to protect coral and rocky reefs there.

Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said Friday that the new regulations affecting Krabi, Pattani, Phangnga, Ranong and Surat Thani already have taken effect and are being enforced.

He said underwater surveys found plastic waste and fishing nets damaging coral reefs off Koh Payam in Ranong, Koh Losin in Pattani, Koh Dokmai in Phangnga and the rocky Kong Hin Daeng in Krabi.

The DMCR said that the orders ban anchoring on the reefs, feeding marine animals to lure or catch them, collecting marine animals and dumping waste into the sea.

Any activities that causes diffusion of sediment on the seabed, affecting coral reefs and sea grass also are prohibited.

Rocky reefs in the country’s major scuba diving sites have been damaged by fishing, so the department banned all kinds of fishing activities at several rocky reefs in Surat Thani, Pattani, Phang-nga and Krabi.

Research and conservation fishing under permit is exempted.

Violators face a maximum of one year in jail and/or a fine of 100,000 baht.