Maldives launches marine conservation portal in sustainable tourism drive

Maldives has launched an online portal for marine conservation, in a bid to strengthen its efforts to promote sustainable tourism.

At a ceremony held at the environment ministry in capital Male Monday morning to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity, environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim inaugurated the Maldives Conservation Portal.

Speaking at the ceremony, the minister stressed the need to focus on sustainable tourism. More awareness programmes on biodiversity and increased efforts to protect marine life are essential for the survival of the country’s tourism industry, he said.

“The reason that attracted the first group of tourists to the Maldives in 1972 remains the same even today. It is the natural beauty of our country; sandy beaches, clear waters and the rich marine life. So it is our individual responsibility to protect our environment,” Thoriq said.

The Maldives Conservation Portal is an open-access, public resource for conservation science in the Maldives. The portal acts as a centralised platform that includes all research and conservation activities run in the country, and one that brings together projects promoted by governmental and non-governmental agencies. Through this portal, all citizens can learn how to become actively involved in marine conservation in the Maldives, and can have an understanding of how the information is used to improve management strategies of natural resources.

The Maldives Conservation Portal is part of Project REGENERATE, a joint initiative of IUCN Marine Maldives Projects, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Marine Research Centre, and Environmental Protection Agency funded by the USAID. Through this portal, project REGENERATE aims to enhance generation of knowledge and science associated with marine resources of the Maldives to apply resilience-based management, and to facilitate access to information for all people interested in conservation activities in the Maldives.

In addition to launching a new biodiversity portal, the government has organised several activities to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity. Some of the activities include a conference on energy efficiency and a biodiversity festival.

The UN has adopted “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” as the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity. It falls in line with a separate UN declaration to mark 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

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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