Developing Marine Protected Areas in the Maldives

Local fishermen identify areas of high usage within Rasdhoo Atoll, Maldives, November 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Deepa Ghosh serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

I was recently invited by the Maldivian Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) to join them on a site visit to Rasdhoo Atoll. The Maldives are well known for their natural beauty, coral reefs, and pristine beaches. Ensuring the country preserves this unique habitat is a priority for the dynamic staff of the MEPA.

The Maldives is a long, narrow country in the Indian Ocean formed by 26 natural atolls covering 90,000 square kilometers over a submarine ridge. Atolls are ring like coral reefs that surround lagoons. They are formed as coral builds up around eroding volcanic islands. The Maldives is also the lowest country on earth, measuring only 2.4 meters above sea level at its highest point, making it particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. Protecting the country’s reefs from pollution, poaching, rapid development, and other hazards is vital to… more »