Mariners consider an offshore lighthouse "lantern of the sea". An offshore lighthouse is a navigational aid, second in importance only to a lighthouse. Although unmanned, and offshore lighthouse is installed with an automatic light control system which is activated only during the night time. In case the light goes out, officials will be sent to repair it. An offshore lighthouse is one of the many navigational aids, an "illumination" located in important districts or landmarks to facilitate safe navigation for mariners.
Presently, the Hydrographic Department of the Royal Thai Navy is responsible for 67 offshore lighthouses. Of the amount, 19 are located in Chachoengsao, Chol Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trad. Twenty-seven are located on the west coast of the Fulf of Siam in Samut Songkram, Samut Sakorn, Phetchaburi, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chumporn, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Pattani and Narathivat. Lining the east coast of Thailand (adjacent to Andaman Sea) are 21 offshore lighthouses in Ranong, Pang-nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satul.
Upon the request of Phetchaburi province, the Royal Thai Navy will construct offshore lighthouses in Ban Laem district as a navigational marking which can help preserve the environment and rehabilitate mangrove forests. Of the 30-kilometre coastline in Ban Laem, 9 kilometres are proclaimed ark shell reservation area. In Ban Laem, Bang Khun Sai and Pak Thalay sub-districts, 1,500 households earn their living on coastline fishery. Recently, fishing boats with ring nets and dragging seines have fished beyond the 3,000 metres off the coast. As a result, retail fishermen along the coast have caught fewer marine animals and the ark shell reservation area has been encroached. The local authority have put in various attempts to solve this porblem. One of the main obstacles barring their success is that there is no clear-cut marking of the reservation area, seining boats have encroached beyond 3,000 metres during the night. This leads to the idea of building offshore lighthouses so that the border line will be clearly lit at night and constructing an artificial coral reef to prevent boats from entering the area during the day.
The offshore lighthouses are to be located in latitude 13o north, longitude 100o 02' 27" east, three kilometres off the land. Each facility is to be equipped with solar-powered sector lights in two colour. The red lights will be installed in 123o-329o, the illumination of wihch will cover the distance between Au Ban Laem sub-district to Ban Bang Kaew sub-district. The white lights, providing an aid to navigation, will be installed facing the sea in 329o-123o. All in all, the radius of its illumination will extend 10 kilometres, covering all the reservation area. The 10-metre-high structure will be made of reinforced concrete with three legs, 2.30-metre far from one another. The base is of concrete-pile type.
A 10-kilometre-long artificial coral reef will be built in the area where the bottom comprises sand and clay in Pak THalay, Bang Kaew and Laem Pak Bia sub-districts. Corals will be laid intermittently or in groups along the coastline, three kilometres from the shore, to prevent fishing boats from entering too close during the day time. The 1,200-metre-long reef will be made of 600 square-sharped concrete blocks of 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 metre, weighing one ton each. The blocks will be laid in 25-block groups, 50 metres far from one another, from Pak Thalay to Laem Pak Bia.
The project calls for a budget of three million baht. The Royal Thai Navy will be responsible for mobilising it with the cooperation of Phetchaburi province and the private sector.
The 9-kilometre-long mangrove forest areas in Ban Laem, Bang Khun Sai, Pak Thalay, and Bang Kaew sub-districts in Ban Laem districts, which are proclaimed the ark shell reservation area according to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry announcement, dated February 18, 1974, entitled "Determining the Area Where Dragging Equipment of Fishing Motor Boats Are Prohibited within 3,000 Metres from the Shoreline."
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