When I Volunteered to Build Fish Homes by SCG Chemicals
Publish On 11, Apr 2018 | When I Volunteered to Build Fish Homes by SCG Chemicals
I am one of those people who love going to the beach, especially those in the east not too far away from Bangkok. Just a couple of hours’ drive, and you’ll see the glittering sea and rolling waves against the clear blue sky. For my friends and I, one of our favorite destinations is “Rayong,” because it abounds with two of the things we hold close to our hearts: fresh seafood and heavenly fruits renowned for their incomparable quality.
However, my trip to Rayong this time was special because I didn’t go there just to eat and shop like the other times. I was there as a volunteer to help build “fish homes” with almost 500 other volunteers after I had seen a video clip on these structures for fish shared on social media, which ended with a question: “Without fish, how would we survive?” That was a good question. If we ran out of fish, we would be forced to resort to imports from our neighboring countries and as a result, fish might become so expensive that we would not be able to enjoy it as often we do now. Therefore, when I learned of the “Fish Home by SCG Chemicals Volunteer Project,” carried out to help local fishermen and replenish marine life in Thai seas, my friends and I unhesitatingly signed up to join the program.
Because this was my, as well as many other fellow volunteers’, first time building fish homes, we were filled with nervous excitement. Totally unfamiliar with the equipment, we were not certain if we could make ourselves all that useful. However, I soon discovered that assembling these structures was much easier that I thought and was not so different from putting together your own furniture, particularly with the help of experts from SCG Chemicals and local fishermen. Therefore, in less than two hours, I got my very own fish home to take a photo with and post on my Facebook to show my friends.
As the finished product turned out exactly like the model, I was filled with a great sense of pride. However, I was still wondering whether these contraptions could actually attract small fish and sea life as I had seen in the clip. To find an answer, I approached “Fluke” and “Somporn,” fishermen from a small fishery group in Rayong who had taught us earlier how to put together these fish homes.
Fluke explained at length the benefits of these inventions that he had seen with his own eyes. Previously, local fishermen, including Fluke and Somporn, were faced with a serious crisis that put them on the verge of abandoning their trade and taking up a new profession as motorcycle taxi drivers: the severe depletion of sea life. This extreme scarcity meant that fishermen had to venture out at least 20 kilometers into the sea to get a good haul. However, after these homes had been installed, they now had to go only 0.5-1 kilometer offshore to make a catch, which not only helped them save a tremendous amount of fuel but also removed concerns for storms as the fish were now drawn closer to the shore.
“These fish homes are nurseries and sanctuaries for marine creatures. Since they were placed in the sea near our communities, they have drawn sea animals back to the shore. Fish that earlier disappeared such as the yellowstripe scad and the sea catfish have also returned to the area. Earlier, we earned 700-800 baht, but now we are making thousands.”
However, it was quite a journey before they got to this point. Somporn recounted that when SCG Chemicals and MCRA (the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Administration 1) approached the community with the project, the villagers had their reservations about how effective these fish homes were. However, since they had nothing to lose, they gave it a try. These fish homes turned out to work wonders for them and brought fish they thought had left Rayong for good such as groupers and yellowstripe scads back to their area.
“When we saw how well they worked, we requested the next set and then several more (each set contains ten fish homes). In Suan Son, there are now over 100 of these. At first, I thought we would never fish again, but these fish homes have put a smile back on our faces. I want to encourage any local fishery group that has not used these to try them out. You will definitely see results.”
Fluke and Somporn also told us that the reason they were so skilled at building these fish homes was because they had joined the project right from the beginning. They actually co-designed these structures, went through trials and errors with the team, and were entrusted with the critical mission of installing these fish homes in appropriate locations. This task was carried out in close consultation with MCRA as these structures had to be placed not too far from sea rocks and in such a way that did not obstruct watercourses. Every month, the villagers would dive into the sea to inspect the conditions of these fish homes and carry out maintenance, so that they could continue to bring benefits not only to their community but also to the sea.
Before we left, Fluke thanked us volunteers profusely for helping them build these fish homes, an act that he equated with restoring marine life back to the sea, leaving us smiling from ears to ears and feeling as if we were some sort of knights in shining armors who came to save sea creatures.
The joy in the voice of these real-life fishermen left me brimming with happiness. I was glad to have decided to join the “Fish Home by SCG Chemicals Volunteer Project,” where I not only made new friends who shared volunteer spirit but also learned how to build fish homes, which bring both direct and indirect benefits, serving as sanctuaries for marine creatures, sources of “livelihood” for local fishermen, and abundant sources of “food” for Thai people that will last for generations. This reminded me of the remarks an executive of SCG Chemicals made during the opening ceremony:
“Over 1,100 fish homes have been installed over the past 5–6 years. They have restored over 120 species to the area and enhancing its biodiversity, creating resources for fishermen that can depend on sustainably for generations to come.”
I am thankful to SCG Chemicals for giving us this opportunity to join them in building these fish homes. Even though it left me drenched in sweat, I loved every minute of it. Also, the assembly was not as difficult as I first thought. Even people with no experience like me could do it. If there are more activities like this, I am definitely not missing them.
Fish Home by SCG Chemicals
2012 The first project was initiated in Pak Khlong Klaeng, Rayong.
2012-2017 The project was expanded throughout the coastal area of Rayong and to Chonburi.
2017 A total of 1,100 fish homes were installed in 29 local fishery areas.
Future A goal has been set to expand the project to the entire area of Rayong and to the other coastal provinces in Eastern Thailand, namely Chanthaburi and Trad.
Structure of fish homes by SCG Chemicals
Fish homes by SCG Chemicals are triangular in shape and made primarily of PE100 pipes. The openings of these pipes allow water to flow in and out easily, and the complex structure creates crevices that are ideal living environments for small fish and other marine animals.
Benefits of Fish Homes by SCG Chemicals
- They serve as nurseries for baby marine life that helps boost marine biodiversity.
- They revitalize coastal fishery resources.
- These structures have created centers for learning and research.
- They have become habitats for over 120 marine species:
- Economic fish such as yellowstripe scads, groupers, Talang queenfish, sardinellas, streaked spinefoots, Chinese demoiselles, sea bass, red frog crabs, mangrove swimming crabs, and mussels
- Ornamental fish such as batfish, rays, and African pompanos
- Sponge corals, gorgonians, and red algae
- Rock barnacles, bivalves, and sea cucumbers
- Phytoplankton and zooplankton
- Fishermen earn higher incomes from fishery.
- The initiative has resulted in a network of environmental conservation, with an addition of over 1,000 members annually.
Let’s get to know PE100, the main material of the fish home.
PE100 pipes are made with high-density polyethylene. Their key distinctive characteristics include:
- Resistance to corrosion
- Resistance to high pressure
- Life span of over 50 years
- PE100 pellets of SCG Chemicals have been certified by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and obtained SFS-EN ISO 8795: 2001 certification from other institutes across the world.
- No hazard or release of toxic substances into the sea