MATI urges to honor EPA's call to stop reclamation

Land reclamation ongoing at Thilafushi. (Photo/Urbanco)

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) on Sunday, has called all tourism industry stakeholders to adhere to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s earlier advisory to stop land reclamation projects, in light of ongoing mass coral bleaching event.

EPA last Thursday, called out to all stakeholders in tourism, construction and other relevant sectors to refrain from land reclamation initiatives until June 10 owing to potential irrecoverable damages to coral reefs due to the bleaching event.

MATI in support EPA's advisory, issued its statement on Sunday, urging tourism industry stakeholders and others to honor the environmental agency's caution.

"We are confident that effective implementation of these measures will undoubtedly aid in lessening the effects of the current mass coral bleaching event," MATI said in its statement.

EPA in its Thursday warning said the Maldives is in "Alert Level 1" of the bleaching event; indicating high-level of coral bleaching.

Besides land reclamation, EPA ordered a halt on channel dredging, sand filling or dredging using pumps, installation of cables and pipes on reefs, construction of boundary walls and other initiatives related to the reefs that required machinery-laden work.

The agency further demanded to stop development Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on such initiatives for now as well.

In response, Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahm last Friday argued, temporary suspension on land reclamation projects was an economically sound decision. He added that Maldives relies on the pristine qualities of its natural resources in attracting tourists, and damages to the environment could hamper tourist arrivals.

Earlier, Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI) had also advised against commencing any initiatives that could put stress on coral reefs during the ongoing bleaching event.