The status of coral reefs in the east Gulf of Thailand is unclear, as are trends in fishery take and the status and influence of water quality on reef productivity. Evidence suggests declining reef quality, unsustainable fisheries and increased anthropogenic impacts on water quality, which cascades through trophic levels resulting in reef degradation. The reefs are adapted to wet-season high turbidity levels; however, additional sediment and pollutants from up-stream land management, increase light attenuation, which limits coral growth. Nutrients in untreated sewage from marine outfalls add to the pressure on corals in the dry season, when tourist visitation is highest. Small marine national parks have been established, along with proposals, to protect the reefs. Marine systems do not respect national boundaries; neither does anthropogenic activity that impacts the reefs. The east Gulf of Thailand is an integrated system that requires a holistic and adaptive management approach extending beyond national boundaries. In the absence of complete scientific knowledge, multiple lines of evidence, including community experiential knowledge, are needed to inform management. This knowledge may be the best available for application to adaptive management. The process of acquisition represents an opportunity to engage stakeholders and foster greater community stewardship of marine resources.