The Maldives is a dream for so many travelers globally; white sand, 5-star resorts and being surrounded by stunning arrays of marine life! These natural wonders attract thousands of visitors every year and need to be protected to ensure they are around for future generations to enjoy. Currently there is 33 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) throughout the Maldives, with a plan to protect the entire country under a nationwide biosphere. Marine Protected Areas allocate particular regions of the ocean for protection due to their ecological significance; MPAs can vary in the types of activities that can occur within their boundaries from no take zones to restrictions on tourist interactions.
In Lhaviyani Atoll there are currently 2 MPAs; Kuredhu Express and Fushifaru Thila. These sites protect an important Manta Ray cleaning station and the most popular dive site within our atoll. There are many more locations of ecological significance within Lhaviyani and last month Naifaru Juvenile in conjunction with the Atoll Marine Center, Prodivers and Manta Trust gained the support of the Atoll Council of Lhaviyani to propose 3 additional MPAs to the Ministry of Environment and Energy.
The sites we proposing to allocate as Marine Protected Areas are:
1) Anemone Thila
2) Hurawalhi Sandbank (Seasonal Feeding Station)
3) Dhanifaru – Manta Rock (Seasonal Cleaning Station)
With the support of the Atoll Council we will now proceed with ecological assessments of these areas, as well as consultation with key stakeholders in order to determine appropriate boundaries and regulations.
In the coming years we hope Lhaviyani will lead the way in the protection of areas of ecological significance within our Atoll and play a significant role in the nationwide biosphere of the Maldives.
By Cassie Hoepner