Baa atoll councils, MPs, resorts call for nationwide plastics ban to protect environment

All thirteen island councils in Baa atoll, the three members of parliament, and many of the leading resorts in the atoll have signed an open letter calling on the government to impose a nationwide ban on single use plastic bottles, bags and straws, which are littering beaches, killing coral reefs, and damaging the tourism industry.

In an open letter to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the signatories to the letter warn that the Maldives “is in danger of becoming another Bali: a once-pristine, tropical tourist paradise ruined by plastic litter.”

“Take a morning stroll along any beach in the Maldives and you’ll be confronted with the same sights: swaying palms, crystal clear waters, powder soft sand — and plastic garbage everywhere,” they write.

“”The Maldives is awash with plastic pollution, with single-use water and cola bottles littering the roads, beaches and lagoons, and plastic bags getting caught up in the coral reefs. Meanwhile, with no proper waste disposal, every local island in the country burns plastic waste in poisonous bonfires.”

The signatories highlight that the current government “was elected on a pledge to tackle with the plastic pollution problem. We would like to support the president as he delivers on his promise.”

“Please impose a national ban on single-use plastic bags, bottles and straws, which are needlessly tarnishing our beautiful country, and damaging the tourism industry upon which we all depend,” they write.

Signatories include Baa atoll MPs Hisaan Hussein, Ali Hussein, and Ahmed Saleem.

All of the atoll island councils – Maalhos, Kihaadhoo, Dharavandhoo, Eydhafushi, Goidhoo, Thulhaadhoo, Hithaadhoo, Kudarikilu, Kendhoo, Kamadhoo, Fulhadhoo, Fehendhoo, and Dhonfanu — also signed the call for a phase out of single use plastics.

Many of the atoll’s major resorts, including Soneva Fushi, Amilla Fushi, Finolhu, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, and Dhigufaru Island Resort, also signed on.

More than 280,000 plastic water bottles are used daily in capital Male, and 104 million non-biodegradable plastic bags were imported in the Maldives last year.

The President’s Office, and other government ministries and state-owned enterprises, recently banned the use of single-use plastic bottles.

Other countries have already taken action against single use plastic. Kenya recently banned single use plastic bags. Vanuatu has pledged to be the first Pacific country to ban plastic bottles and bags. France will bring in a total ban on plastic cups, plates, and cutlery from 2020.

Photo: Mika Rissa

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