The Maldivian archipelago, comprised of approximately 1,200 islands surrounded by coral reefs, serves as an important habitat for a number of marine flora and fauna. The ocean has always been an integral part of the Maldives and its people. Both fisheries and tourism sectors, two main pillars of the countrys economy, rely heavily on utilizing marine resources.
Coral reefs are the physical basis and the predominant ecosystem of the Maldives. Healthy coral reefs are fundamental for the sustainable development of the Maldives in terms of food security, island protection and a range of other important ecosystem services. Developmental projects, increased fishing pressure and climate change are causing changes in the ocean hydrodynamics and coral reef health, and even leading to loss of important marine habitats.
The increased demand for reef resources created by the thriving tourism industry and the overseas market and the subsequent increase in fishing effort is causing great impacts to our reef resources, especially species vulnerable to overfishing.
Mindful of the anthropogenic and climate change implications for the oceans and marine ecosystems and resources, the importance of building climate change resilience and adaptation, and the immediate need to safeguard its marine resources from overfishing, development and climate change impacts, Maldives commits to scaling up the Marine Conservation Fund (MCF) launched in October 2015. The MCF was initially set up to support projects to conserve Endangered, Threatened and Protected marine species (ETPs) particularly marine turtles. Following the scaling up of the fund,
Maldives aims to broaden the scope of the Marine Conservation fund to incorporate sustainable exploitation of fishery resources, promote marine scientific research in the Maldives and support projects for the research and conservation of coral reef ecosystems. Donations received by the Fund will be utilised to support conservation and management efforts in four key areas:
- Strengthen conservation of marine turtles
- Promote sustainable utilization of marine resources in the fisheries and advocating best practices in fisheries through implementation of ecosystem based approaches.
- Promote marine scientific research in the Maldives
- Strengthen the National Coral Reef Monitoring Framework (NCRMF)
Biennial marine science symposium
Inclusion of two sites identified as the most significant sites for marine turtles in terms of nesting and foraging in the IOSEA Network of Sites of Importance for Marine Turtles
Formulation and implementation of management plans for all fisheries
Increased participation from tourism sector to the National Coral Reef Monitoring Framework