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Status of Submerged Habitats in Lampi Island, Myanmar

May 2, 2016

During its March 2016 survey of the Lampi Island Marine Park combining Sentinel 2 satellite data and field observations, CNR-IREA could observe the progress of coral bleaching in the Adaman Sea and the disastrous effects of blast fishing onto the environment.

Author: Jean Laporte with input from Roberto Colombo, Tommaso Julitta, Claudia Giardino, Vittorio Brando and Mariano Bresciani

The Lampi Island Marine National Park (LIMNP) covers a 205 sq. km section of the Myeik, or Mergui, Archipelago, which comprises more than 800 islands and constitutes the only marine national park of Myanmar. It includes the Lampi Island, several smaller islands and the seas around them. LIMNP was designed in 1996 and has been selected because of its vulnerability to the loss of biodiversity due to the human pressure. Lampi Island forested areas are only marginally affected by development pressure, while overexploitation of marine resources is rather diffuse in the coastal zones.

Currently, efforts in defining ecosystem management strategies at LIMNP are pursued by the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry in combination with the Istituto Oikos non-profit organization. Within the collaboration activities between and CNR-IREA, University of Milano-Bicocca and the Istituto Oikos, a field survey of Lampi Island was conducted in March 2016 and the Italian team from University of Milano-Bicocca has just returned home. In Lampi, thanks to the further reinforcement by a Thai team from the Prince of Songkla University, they performed a 10-days campaign.

Fieldwork activities were accomplished to gather reference data to validate algorithms and products developed with the ESA Sen2Coral project. GPS positioning with field notes and photographs/video on submerged habitats, coral health and bottom depth were collected for the entire Lampi Island. Reflectance spectra were also measured during the Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 overpasses to perform radiometric validation on the Sentinel 2 MSI sensor and comparisons. Overall, the campaign went well and in the coming months data will be processed for their use within the Sen2Coral project and to support the NGO to provide essential information of natural resources for management purposes.

Coral survey confirmed that marine habitat in the Lampi island are seriously impacted by heavy fishing pressure. We found a large range in coral reef health with some sites seriously affected due to a combination of coral bleaching events, dynamite (blast) fishing and high fishing pressure. Of these, the impacts of dynamite fishing are the most serious and far-reaching. These videos show the status of the corals and the effects of blast fishing on reef slopes. Before blast fishing, reef profiles show a large biodiversity, 3D shape complexity, mainly delicate corals occupying all available space, but after bomb blast very few corals remain and the seabed is mostly occupied by rubble.

Extended Macropora bleaching (© IRD Nouméa)

Extended Macropora bleaching (© IRD Nouméa)

Healthy coral head

From a remote sensing perspective, Sentinel-2 data will help us to monitor this process and, by combining bathymetric maps and spectral information, we intend to generate a useful tool for pursuing management strategies in the context of sustainable development and produce a satellite derived nautical chart of the area by using Physics-based model inversion.

The nautical chart of the Mergui Archipelago was first published by the DMA in 1927 (Source: IHO INT catalogue) A nautical chart of Lampi Island will be produced as a spinoff of Sen2Coral using Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB)

The nautical chart of the Mergui Archipelago was first published by the DMA in 1927 (Source: IHO INT catalogue)
A nautical chart of Lampi Island will be produced as a spinoff of Sen2Coral using Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB)

The nautical chart of the Mergui Archipelago was first published by the DMA in 1927 (Source: IHO INT catalogue)
A nautical chart of Lampi Island will be produced as a spinoff of Sen2Coral using Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB)