Untouched by mass tourism, its lush rain forests and dense mangroves are found in every corner of the archipelago. Its beaches are postcard perfect. There are 800 islands in the Mergui, most are located off the coast of Myeik. The key attraction for divers in this location is the Burma Banks, which is found on the outer reaches of the Mergui in the Andaman Sea. At Burma Banks is where the ocean trench begins to drop down into the abyssal plains. The continental shelf is beyond our reach for assessment. Large pelagic, sharks, and rays are common in the waters. The islands closer to the coasts consists of the shallow plateau and scattered reefs. There, the coral reefs are littered with discarded or lost fishing gear. There is hardly any reef in this vast archipelago that has not been damaged by ghost nets. Some reefs are still covered in fishing nets as thick as up to 12 layers that have accumulated over the years. Besides the ghost nets, there is no shortage of other abandoned fishing gear like traps and long lines. Conservation of coral reefs in this area begins with a massive cleanup. Hardly any rehabilitation of reefs in the Mergui can begin without clearing the sites, assessing the damage and protecting them from future encroachment. It’s a task that is nearly impossible to accomplish.
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Issue 02 - 2020