Garbage floats freely from “impatient” boats

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has blamed a surge of garbage floating in Thilafushi lagoon on “impatient” trash boats; trash which is now flowing into the sea.

In 2009, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that 330 tons of waste are transported in Thilafushi island for processing. Thilafushi is commonly known as ‘garbage island’.

Head of the EPA, Ibrahim Naeem, said a “huge amount of garbage” has been collecting in the ocean, due partly to a change in tides. Speaking to Minivan News today, Naeem did not want to say whether the trash was coming from resort boats, but did say the problem “involves everyone”.

“The mechanism for waste collection and disposal needs to be improved,” he said. “The EPA has to do some work on the matter, and the people who are bringing in the garbage and contributing to its buildup also need to take responsibility.”

Naeem said the EPA had photographs and names of several boats that had been dumping garbage into the sea. The agency is now investigating 10 cases.

Naeem said legal action will be taken against boats caught dumping garbage, which would affect fishing and tourism, two of the country’s largest economic contributors.

Yet there are signs that both the garbage and a lack of regulation may already be affecting tourism. In a recent interview with Minivan News, French tourist Marie Kivers noted a lack of waste bins on Male and Guraidhoo.

It’s funny because we who live abroad think that Male’ will be an example for the world about pollution and everything, since global warming is important here. But when you see the inhabitants in the Maldives, they put anything into the sea,” she said.

Some boat captains have claimed that boats from islands, safaris and resorts dump garbage into the lagoon instead of anchoring near Thilafushi, reports Haveeru. An earlier rule stating that garbage had to be dumped before six in the evening likely contributed to the rushed habit.

Reports indicate that the waste exceeds the capacity of Thilafushi. Naeem says some boats are getting impatient.

“The facility at Thilafushi is designed so that only two or three boats can dock and dump at a time,” said Naeem. “If the waste is not removed from the area, however, or the boats take a while, other boats won’t be able to get in and dump their waste.”

The EPA has said that arrangements are being made to ensure that waste is only dumped on the island under the supervision of a council employee – a thing earlier practiced, reports Haveeru. An official also said that boats traveling to Thilafushi will be charged according to waste weight.

Thilafushi is currently the only island designed for waste disposal in the Maldives. Naeem told Minivan News that there are plans for a new site to be developed in Raa Atoll.


9 thoughts on “Garbage floats freely from “impatient” boats”

  1. The fact is that very few Maldivians love the nature. I have seen people pluck beautiful flowers just for nothing and destroy it. If they see a butterfly or a bird they somehow won’t to catch it or scare it off. Maldivians do not value the nature nor to appreciate its beauty.
    The government, NGOS and individuals should make the mass aware of the importance of preserving the nature.
    The community in the Islands disposes empty food cans, plastic items and bottles into their own lagoon. There is no one to say anything about these unpleasant behaviors of the Islanders!

  2. Well stop talking about it and hit them where it hurts. Give them a hefty fine!!

  3. I am interested to know where Safaris/Resorts outside the Male' region dump their waste?

  4. I just came back from an 8 hour trip from one of the islands to Male', and my heart sank to see bottle after bottle, supari and plastic kothalhu, and milk packets and stuff just being thrown out at the sea. At least 15-20 bottles were thrown out on this single trip, imagine how many bottles get thrown over the course of an year?? I talked to some of the people on the boat, and they simply do not see anything wrong with that...

  5. It is terribly sad to see how little respect we Maldivians have for ourselves and our environment. Then we think the world of ourselves. I think we are too full of ourselves. The tourist will stop coming to our dirty seas and with this attitude we are not going to be welcome anywhere once the ocean covers our spec country.

  6. Very sad indeed. The same safaris and boats from resorts were dumping garbage at Thilafushi earlier as well. It is the lack of supervision and care by those in charge now that is to blame for the environmental disaster.

  7. @ verena : They dump biodegradable waste like food in lagoons. and others wastes in the sea outside the atolls

  8. Environmental awareness should be taught at school to change the attitude of the young towards their surroundings, thereby improving the environmental behaviour and responsibility of the next generations. Hopefully this would also influence on their seniors.
    Wouldn't Male be a much greater place to live if it was as clean as Singapore!? Introduce fines for people just trowing waste on the street and in the sea. Whether it being the single persons throwing cigaret buds, chewing gum or even spitting, to the resorts and boats dumping waste. It would be another income for the country, and with all the waste around the streets and waters of eg Male I think it would be quite a lucrative one. The country needs money doesn't it!? More bins on the streets, sweepers, waste control, fines, and a return system of the huge amount of plastic bottles floating around. If people would get a few larries per plastic bottle they hand in, you will see people collecting bottles from beaches and streets instead of just trowing it as they please. More focus should be put on recycling of waste material.
    With the increasing no of resorts, inhabitants and tourists in the Maldives something needs to be done to accommodate the increasing level of waste.


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