Five eco-fish sites in Lhaviyani atoll have been designated as protected areas.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih made the decision upon recommendation from his cabinet of ministers at an online meeting on Tuesday.
The sites designated as protected areas in Faadhippolhu are; Maagadhu (Anemone)Thila; Dhiffushi-Maadhoo, the northernmost island of the Atoll; Sellhifuhshi Island wetlands area; Maakoa Island; Vavvaru Island and Dhandifalhu Island reef and lagoon; Dhandifalhu Island sandbank; and Dhashugiri Island sandbank.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Ministry of Environment had shared a paper regarding the reasons for recommending protected status for these areas, which cited several reasons such as research reports; first-hand reports from craftsmen in the area (fishermen and farmers); NGOs; associations and experts from the environmental field as well traditional knowledge from our ancestors passed down through the generations.
Submitting the paper, Minister of Environment Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan noted that areas for protection had been recommended following consultations with the ministries, authorities and other relevant parties.
He stressed that progress of infrastructure at Faadhippolhu Atoll will continue to be developed without affecting these areas, adding that protecting these areas will benefit future generations through eco-tourism as well as integrated tourism.
Further, the minister noted that two other areas in the atoll had also previously been protected - Fushithila area, on 27th September 1995, and Kureddhoo reef and lagoon (Kureddhoo express) area, on 21st October 1999- under the law of environmental protection and prevention.
The incumbent administration had previously declared 14 areas from Haa Alif, Haa Dhaalu, Shaviyani and Noonu Atoll in addition to ‘Farikede Faru,’ a marine site in Fuvahmulah City, and four sites from Addu city as protected sites, under Section 4 of the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, in accordance with the its Strategic Action Plan.
The President’s Office noted that the administration plans to “designate at least one island, one reef and one mangrove, in each atoll as protected areas.”