Bluepeace cautious over government’s Baa Atoll preservation plans

Local environmental NGO Bluepeace has said government action to establish and extend several protected ecological preserves in Baa Atoll is an “encouraging development”, despite its concerns about the efficiency of collaboration between different ministerial branches over eco-protection.

Ali Rilwan from Bluepeace said that he supported the government’s action in regard to environmental protection across the southerly atoll, yet insisted the measures were more of a “first step” towards a comprehensive national preservation system rather than a finalised commitment to conservation.

The comments were made as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it had signed a declaration with the Ministry of Housing and Environment to protect several different habitats within Baa Atoll in honour of World Environment Day.

Protected areas in the atoll, which has been described by Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam as having one of the country’s most diverse eco-systems, will now include Maahuruvalhi Faru and the islands of Bathalaahura and Gaaganduhura along with their house reefs, as well as the island of Goidhoo and its swamp land.

Previously protected areas in the atoll, including Dhigalihaa and the island of Hanifaru along with its adjoining bay – already popular spots for divers trying to see whale sharks – were also extended to become larger preserves.

The Environment Ministry also yesterday expressed interest in working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to additionally register the atoll as a biosphere reserve to further protect indigenous wildlife and plant life.

Taking the example of previous declarations of protected eco-systems back in 2009, Rilwan said he remained concerned about the wider effectiveness of implementing and maintaining preserves in the Maldives.

He alleged that government bodies such as the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture had previously allowed timber permits for logging in certain protected areas, even after protected zones had been established.

Rilwan claimed that in order for the government to provide an efficient national strategy for environmental protection, various ministerial bodies dealing with the environment, agriculture and trade all needed stronger methods for collaboration.

“We’re not seeing the agriculture ministry work directly with the country’s trade ministry.  Each one seems to exist like they are their own government,” he claimed.  “We don’t see any national collaboration between [the different ministries].

Rilwan said that he believed this lack of collaboration had led to confusion and occasional contradiction in policies between individual ministries in regards to protecting a specific area or species.

“For instance, you have species such as turtles and whale sharks being the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, while the places they inhabit are being dealt with by the Environment Ministry,” he said.

Rilwan claimed that this confusion had been seen to cause problems in the past such as imposing a ban on shark hunting last year.

While some ministries had at the time been working on schemes to offer compensation to fishermen affected by the ban, Rilwan alleged other agencies such the country’s customs authorities were not always doing enough to ensure products derived from shark were not finding their way out of the country.

Spokesperson for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, was not responding to calls at time of press.

In terms of possible future work with groups like UNESCO in outlining protected zones in Baa Atoll, Rilwan said he believed that the environmentally protected designations imposed on the area would also allow for a increased research into the region’s habitats.

“We do not have a lot of research on these areas commonly available for local people.  Hopefully this protection will hope create awareness about the areas and their inhabitants such as plant life and fungus,” he said.


7 thoughts on “Bluepeace cautious over government’s Baa Atoll preservation plans”

  1. Dhigu Faru in Baa Atoll, (separated by a few metres of deep blue sea from Royal Island, Horubadhoo) a huge eco-system, had been destroyed by a business tycoon who had gouged a sandbank in the edge of the Faru to create a harbour for his launches. The sandbank alone, home for hundreds of terns and other birds hv been completely overrun by shacks for the tycoon's staff..Sediment from the dredging had killed off large swathes of the Reef. A usual bait fishery resource.. gone forever.. Blue Peace, and the government should take note..Tks.

  2. Minivan covered that story should give the link.. as the issue has not been resolved.. keep following up on yer

  3. a lot of credit is due towards the AEC project ..

  4. who is this ali rilwan? he is crazy and he just talks talks and talks with no substantivity to comment on these issues how much knowledge doze he have on baa atoll and the work going on there. how much phone call had to be made to convince the busy man to attend a consultation meeting and even after that not turn up and now makes headlines. Ali Rilwan u seriously need help!!! and Minivan new should know not to make headlines using such people has sources...

  5. First of all , Baa Atoll is only one half of a natural Atoll, Maalhesmadulu, and half of the natural atoll ecosystem of Maalhesmadulu. There is ongoing Airport project in Thulaadhoo, lots of reclamation of sea and copping trees. Where are the great crescent and lesser crescent terns on Nelivaru next to Sonivaafushi.? Tourists from Sonivaafushi have destroyed one of few nesting place for only crescent terns in the Maldives, for their sunset watching barbecue, when the birds return Nelivaru after along days fishing. Beside the Government have recently reclaimed huge area in Thulaadhoo, and huge area coral have been destroyed by dredging a harbour in a virgin reef in front of Royal Island in Baa Atoll. The harbor was made for mooring the vessels used by the resort, even though many harbours exist nearby. This used to be baiting ground for tuna fishermen.


  6. Declaring some reserves in Baa Atoll is not enough because some of the most ecologically significant places in the Maldives are being destroyed through illegal aquaculture projects.

    Ask Minister Aslam what action he has taken over the illegal sea cucumber projects going on in Noonu Atoll Kendhikulhudhoo ( and Maalhendhoo ( and if any department under Aslam's Ministry had approved the coastal modification of Shaviyani Atoll Nalandhoo (

    Ask Minister Aslam why he has failed to halt the leasing of Gaafu Dhaalu Dhigulaabadhoo too.

    Ask Minister Aslam what action his ministry is taking over 3A company for destroying the beach of an island by illegally mining sand and taking it on a barge for a resort they are developing.

  7. Rilwan, please don’t waste your time meeting highly paid so called “cut and paste” consultants/experts, who have no background and experience, but squeeze knowledge of common people and abuse the knowledge for their financial gain. Be friendly with media, they are influential, in creating awareness and advocacy.


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