Marine festival held in Mathiveri

A marine festival titled ‘Moodhu Maa-Kan’du Fest 2014’ took place on the island of Mathiveri in Alif Alif atoll on Saturday (September 20).

According to a press release from the US embassy, the one-day festival was organised by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture as well as the North Ari Atoll Council and “provided local residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding environmental issues in their communities.”

US Ambassador to Maldives Michele J. Sison, State Minister for Environment and Energy Mohammed Ibrahim and State Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Zaha Waheed, State Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture attended the festival, which was held to raise awareness about climate change challenges and provide hands-on training to learn about protecting marine life.

“You are all aware of the overwhelming urgency to address climate change adaptation in Maldives,” Ambassador Sison was quoted as saying in the press release.

“That is why it is crucial for all the people of Maldives to participate when deciding how to protect your natural resources.”

The press statement explained that the festival was part of REGENERATE (Reefs Generate Environmental and Economic Resiliency for Atoll Ecosystems), a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to “better protect and manage marine systems, especially the coral reef life affected by climate change and human activities.”

“Maldives attaches great importance to the protection and preservation of coral reefs. We continue to collaborate with partners, both local and international,” said Mohamed Ibrahim.

“However, we hold to creed that community participation and ownership is the key to the success of these efforts.”

The festival included activities such as “snorkeling and swimming lessons, a beach clean-up competition, an invention competition using recyclables, and even instructor-guided scuba diving lessons.”

“The Maldives territory is over 99 percent water and the archipelago’s well-being depends directly on healthy marine and coastal environments,” said Dr Ameer Abdulla, REGENERATE Program Manager and Senior Advisor to the IUCN Global Marine Program.

“This festival is a first step in motivating and forming the next generation of Maldivian marine scientists and managers.”