More than 25 per cent of Maldives' luxury resorts joined the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass social media campaign led by the Blue Marine Foundation and Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and pledged to protect their seagrass meadows.
Over 30 resorts committing themselves to the protection of more than 830,000 square metres of seagrass around resorts across the country.
Seagrass beds are commonly removed when found near resorts as managers believe that it spoils the clear, picturesque lagoons that tourists expect to observe while on holiday.
Executive Director of the Blue Marine Foundation Charles Clover stated that “Many resorts have joined the campaign and are now protecting this critical habitat, however, some resorts are still continuing to remove their seagrass. Support from the government, resorts, organisations and tourists, is evidence that seagrass removal is finally ready to be put to an end”.
The website www.protectmaldivesseagrass.com had more than 22,000 visits in a four-month period, with the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass hashtag mentioned over 300 times a day at the height of the campaign. Over 1,600 people from both the local and international community have registered their support to protect seagrass in Maldives.
The Ministry of Tourism also expressed support for the campaign to stop the removal of seagrass beds.
Seagrass plays a vital role in Maldives by preventing beach erosion, fighting climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, providing food for sea turtles, supporting the fisheries industry and housing juvenile coral reef fish.
Executive Director Clover also asserted that “Seagrass needs to be protected if the Maldives’ marine environment is to have the best chance of withstanding the environmental challenges expected over the next century”.
Six Senses Laamu, the resort that inspired the campaign, has protected its seagrass since 2017 and has successfully demonstrated that seagrass and tourism can coexist.
General Manager of Six Senses Laamu Marteyne van Well said “It’s inspiring to see so many resorts come together and advocate for seagrass. With the number of new resorts on the rise, it’s vital that this expansion is done sustainably to protect the countries’ unique marine environment that people all over the world come to visit”.