Marine Festival in North Ari Atoll Attracts Community Support for Environment

September 22, 2014: U.S. Ambassador to Maldives Michele J. Sison joined Mohammed Ibrahim, Maldivian State Minister for Environment and Energy, and Zaha Waheed, State Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, and hundreds of North Ari Atoll environment and beach lovers to celebrate the Marine Festival “Moodhu Maa-Kan’du Fest 2014” on September 20 in North Ari Atoll, Mathiveri Island. The event raised awareness about climate change challenges and provided hands-on training to learn about protecting marine life.


Organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture as well as the North Ari Atoll Council, the day-long festival also provided local residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding environmental issues in their communities.

“You are all aware of the overwhelming urgency to address climate change adaptation in Maldives,” said Ambassador Sison. “That is why it is crucial for all the people of Maldives to participate when deciding how to protect your natural resources.”


The festival is part of REGENERATE (Reefs Generate Environmental and Economic Resiliency for Atoll Ecosystems), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to better protect and manage marine systems, especially the coral reef life affected by climate change and human activities.


“Maldives attaches great importance to the protection and preservation of coral reefs. We continue to collaborate with partners, both local and

international,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, State Minister for Environment and Energy. “However, we hold to creed that community participation and ownership is the key to the success of these efforts.”

Echoing that theme, an important part of REGENERATE is encouraging local communities to protect their own marine neighborhoods. As such, the festival welcomed visitors through activities such as snorkeling and swimming lessons, a beach clean-up competition, an invention competition using recyclables, and even instructor-guided scuba diving lessons.


“The Maldives territory is over 99 percent water and the archipelago’s well-being depends directly on healthy marine and coastal environments,” said Dr. Ameer Abdulla, REGENERATE Program Manager and Senior Advisor to the IUCN Global Marine Program. “This festival is a first step in motivating and forming the next generation of Maldivian marine scientists and managers.” 

USAID is the development agency of the U.S. Government and has provided development and humanitarian assistance to developing countries worldwide for over 50 years. In Maldives, USAID has provided over $12 million through its global climate change program since 2001.

Working together towards proper management of the largest Marine Protected Area of the Maldives


Stakeholder consultation workshops on South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (S.A. MPA) were held on 15 and 17 August. Organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, the workshops’ aim was to discuss the challenges faced at S.A. MPA and to canvass a roadmap towards a management plan to protect this unique and valuable site.  


The first workshop was held in A.Dh Maamigli with local community stakeholders. Fishermen, teachers, local NGOs, island councils of Dhigurah, Dhiddhoo, Maamigli and Fenfushi and the A.Dh Atoll council were in attendance. 


The second workshop, with tourism industry stakeholders, was organized in Male’. Representatives from resorts, including general managers, dive centre managers and liveaboards representatives were present. Board members of the Divers Association of Maldives (DAM) and the Liveaboard Association of Maldives (LAM) were also in attendance.

S.A. MPA is the biggest MPA in the Maldives; it was established in 2009 for its unique whale shark aggregations occurring all year round. Whale sharks are listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable with a decreasing population trend. Thanks to stakeholders’ input, we are getting closer to defining proper management to preserve this species and the spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities it offers.


 The workshops were sponsored by Global Blue.


The case of Hanifaru Bay

The case of Hanifaru Bay

By Mr. Niv Froman

A bay the size of a football pitch, Hanifaru Bay is a unique and special site where, during favourable conditions, over 200 manta rays aggregate to feed on the zooplankton trapped inside the bay. Hanifaru Bay is now a Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the Maldives and a core site within the recently established Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The extraordinary manta feeding…

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