Rainbow Warrior joins community protest-at-sea in Samui’s “ground zero”

Feature story - September 26, 2010
Samui, Surat Thani,– The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, joined a protest-at-sea organized by the Siam Gulf Preservation Network Group off the island of Koh Samui today, to call on the Government of Thailand to abandon its fossil-fuel driven development plans and immediately adopt measures to safeguard marine biodiversity in the Gulf of Thailand and the livelihoods of its coastal communities.

The Gulf of Thailand is home to hundreds of coral species as well as endangered whale sharks, dugong, dolphin, sea turtle species.  In the past 35 or so years, more than 5,000 offshore oil wells have been drilled in its waters.  At the same time, experts have noted the steady decline of quality in the country’s most important marine waters, as well as relentless industrial encroachment on valuable marine ecosystems. However, the government continues to approve the increased entry of heavy industries, even as pollution and environmental impacts remain only minimally addressed.

“The Thai government’s unchecked race toward industrialization favors dirty development and victimizes resources essential for economic sustainability. Oil drilling projects in the Gulf are a shameful example of how time and again, people’s livelihoods and health, and our natural biodiversity on which these depend, are sacrificed for short term prosperity that benefits only a very small sector of society. We are demanding cancellation of all new permits granted to petroleum companies currently conducting oil exploration and drilling off Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand” said Samui Mayor Ramnet Jaikwang.

Ancient forests are being wiped out, oceans are plundered to the point of no return, agricultural biodiversity is in meltdown from modern industrial farming, and the impacts of climate change are causing irreversible damage to the planet and threaten food security for millions of people.  The results of the 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook confirm that the Earth has reached crucial tipping points for a number of ecosystems -- such as coral reefs and forests.  Unless strong action is taken, many ecosystems will no longer be able to sustain life and provide for the needs of present and future generations.  Greenpeace believes governments should seize the occasion of the Convention on Biological Diversity COP 10 in Nagoya to make agreements that ensure real action is taken to protect Life on Earth.

“Greenpeace is here supporting community movements in order to catalyze Thai society to make green development a reality.  Change is possible.  Ten years ago, the Rainbow Warrior visited Samui to address the issue of waste management and dioxin pollution.  With growing global concern over biodiversity loss, climate change, and the negative impacts of coal and nuclear energy, communities in places such as Sichon, Tong Ching, and Samui, here in Thailand’s southern seaboard are standing up to carve their own sustainable development plans,” Said Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace Country Representative for Thailand.

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is in Thailand for the first leg of the “Turn the Tide” tour of Southeast Asia.  Greenpeace is calling on ASEAN member nations to support green investments and adopt low-carbon growth pathway for future development.  The Tour marks 10 years of Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigns to protect forests, catalyze an Energy Revolution, promote sustainable agriculture, and stop water pollution in the region.