Maldives to create world’s biggest marine reserve

Friday, 22 June 2012 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

THE Maldives has announced at the Rio+20 summit it will create the world’s biggest marine reserve to protect its fisheries and biodiversity.

“I would like to announce today Maldives will become the first country to become a marine reserve,” President Mohamed Waheed said overnight.

15 Staff members of TUI Germany arrived in Sri Lanka on 19 June 2012 on a Familiarisation Tour. The group “TUI Seminarreisen” was welcomed at the Bandaranaike International  Airport  by their local agent - Aitken Spence Travels Ltd. Pic by Kumarasiri Prasad-Airport Correspondent

“It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world. This policy will allow only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. It will exclude deep-sea, purse-seining and other destructive (trawling) techniques,” he said.

He was referring to a fishing technique in which a seine in the shape of a bag is used to ensnare fish and other catch.

Mr Waheed said: “Already, Maldives is a sanctuary for sharks, turtles and many species of fish in the Indian Ocean. Trade in these products is now illegal in the Maldives.”

He did not spell out how big the reserve would be, but said: “We can do it in a short time. I hope we can do it in five years.”

The Maldives initiative comes just days after federal Environment Minister Tony Burke announced Australia’s plan to set up the world’s largest network of marine parks.

The network will cover 3.1 million square kilometres, or a third of Australian waters, including the Coral Sea and the southwest coast of Western Australia.

It will limit fishing and some oil and gas exploration.

“This is the biggest step forward the globe has ever seen,” Environment Minister Tony Burke said in Sydney last week, adding Australia would be a world leader in ocean protection.

Mr Burke was prevented from attending the Rio+20 conference after the Opposition refused to grant him a pair in parliament, saying they wanted the opportunity to quiz him about the marine parks.

The environment minister said he was forced to cancel bilateral meetings because he would not have arrived at the conference in time.