Maldives seeks stronger reef protection with marine festival

Maldives has concluded another successful marine festival aimed at strengthening the management of the country’s coral reef ecosystem, a component vital for sustaining the island nation’s tourism industry.

On April 8, hundreds of students and families from seven North Ari Atoll islands joined Maldivian and US Agency for International Development (USAID) officials to celebrate the Moodhu Maa-Kan’du marine festival on Rasdhoo Island. The event is part of a US-funded project to strengthen the management of the coral reef ecosystem in the Maldives.

Organised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the festival included a beach cleanup and provided residents with hands-on opportunities to learn about protection of marine life in the Maldives. Organisations such as Manta Trust, Junior Chamber International (JCI) and the Marine Research Centre also set up booths to provide information to the public on protection of the environment.

“The United States is proud to work with Maldivians to protect their valuable coastal resources, particularly coral reefs,” said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap. “We share their aspirations for a sustainable, democratic future.”

The Maldivian government, US government and IUCN have collaborated for three consecutive years to host the Moodhu Maa-Kan’du marine festival in different locations throughout the Maldives.

“It is a great pleasure to see the energetic involvement of young people in the environmental conservation activities at today’s Moodu Maa-Ka’ndu festival,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy.  “We should all protect our coral reef environment and endeavour for a sustainable future.”

Known internationally as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with a unique underwater beauty to explore. The islands of the Maldives have consistently warm waters with outstanding visibility throughout the year, and consist of exhilarating dive sites such as vibrant thilas, exciting channels, coral-filled overhangs and fascinating wrecks.

Maldives’ world-renowned coral reefs play a fundamental role in food production, shoreline protection, and tourism revenue, but coral bleaching has killed many shallow coral reefs. Preservation of the reefs has become more important than ever.

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