The Thai water in the Gulf of Thailand, there are many islands and islets both with and without inhabitants. However, the island farthest from the coast is “Losin Island” of Pattani Province. Losin is not only farthest but also the smallest island in Thailand. Nevertheless, it is very crucial island of Thailand whether in the aspects of national security, maritime territories, energy and natural resources.
The so-called “Losin Island” actually is a pile of rocks under the sea. It is a small rocky mountain that the top slightly emerged from the water about 10 meters. The under the water base of the rock pile is about 50 square meters wide that there is totally no sandy beach or trees. There is only a lighthouse stands out as a landmark for sailors and extremely important in terms of national security and maritime territories.
By the time of each State began to declare an exclusive economic zone of its coastal State for 200 nautical miles under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, causing of the overlapping of the exclusive economic zones of many States including the Thai-Malaysian territorial waters. Particularly when it was found that this area is a huge source of natural gas, both Thailand and Malaysia claim their rights in this maritime area. That’s led to the maritime dispute between the States. However, Losin is the island of reference that Thailand used to extend its 200 nautical miles, and Thailand firmly stated that its lighthouse established since 1958 at the time that Thailand entered to be a party to UNCLOS.
According to the UNCLOS, it states the meaning of the island as “is a land surrounded by water which means including rocky islands or piles of rocks protruding into the water as well”. As a consequence, Losin became the last island of Thailand and Malaysian admitted to that. Eventually in 1979, Thailand and Malaysia enter into an agreement for the maritime overlapping area by establishment of a Joint Development Area (JDA) covering approximately 7,250 square kilometres and setting up an organization to joint management and share benefits for 50 years for each State.
Even it emerges a little above the water, the underwater world of Losin is great. It is known as a great area of marine resources. There is a nourish and abundance of coral and fish. Over 100 rai of the area below water of Losin Island is full of various types of coral, from shallow water (2-10 m) that mostly inhabited by small groups of hard corals, medium deep-water area (10-20 m.) that mostly inhabited by staghorn coral groves which are so plenty that so-called the kingdom of staghorn. The kingdom intersperses by various types of small corals, lump-shaped corals and deep coral reefs (20-40 m). They are soft corals and sea- fans coral that are beautiful colours.
The abundance of the underwater world and the importance of this island has led the efforts to establish Losin as a marine protected area pursuant to Articles 20, 23 of the Marine and Coastal Resources Management Act, B.E. 2015 in order to conserve and protect the abundance of the below water resources and maintain the biodiversity in a tangible manner.
In the past, there have been several meetings of relevant sectors and stakeholder involved in drafting of the measures for protection of the marine resources in Losin.
On January 16, Mr. Warawut Silpa-archa, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (TSS) said that the Cabinet (Cabinet) has considered two draft ministerial regulations on January 12, 2021, consisting of a draft Ministerial Regulation on the Establishment of the group Koh Kra, Pak Phanang Sub-district, East Side, Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province as a protected areas for marine and coastal resources. The Cabinet has considered and approved the draft ministerial regulation and will proceed to the notification process.
For the draft of Ministerial Regulation on the Establishment of Losin Island, Nam Bo Subdistrict, Panare District, Pattani Province as a marine and coastal resources protected area, the Cabinet has approved its principle and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has received comments from relevant agencies to consider before submitting to the Office of the Council of State for consideration again.
Mr. Jatuporn Burusphat, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the Ministerial Regulations were drafted along with stipulating measures for managing the two areas with the participation of stakeholder and approved by the National Marine and Coastal Resources Management Policies and Plans. So, both Ministerial Regulations have been through the process of thinking, scrutiny and accepted by the people, academia and qualified resources persons. Thus, he will speed up the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources to urgent proceed the Notification process.
Mr. Sophon Thongdee, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said that the integrity of coral reefs was found. There is a diversity of marine life and ecosystems. It is also a habitat and food source for rare marine animals around Losin Island where whale sharks, manta rays and more than 116 species of fish are found, etc. The Department is in the process of expediting exploration of other suitable areas whether necessary to declare them as marine protected areas.
Compiled by Bunthika Intaring