The Ministry of Environment and Energy extended protection to three additional islands, namely Madivaru in Rasdhoo Atoll which is administratively located in Alif Alif Atoll, Dhigulaabadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, and Farukolhu in Shaviyani Atoll.
According to the official gazette (2018/R-78) released by the ministry, the three areas are protected under the Environment Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives (EPPA, Law No: 4/93), and an umbrella law passed in August 2018 that grants a selection of islands extended rights.
As per the regulations outlined in the gazette (R-78/2018), swimming, snorkelling, diving and picnic visits are allowed in all areas, whereas littering, collecting shells (for economic purposes), lobster fishing, the removal of sand and stones, and any other activity deemed harmful to the environment is banned for Maldivians and foreigners alike.
In addition, all forms of fishing are banned in core areas, with allowances made for traditional bait fishing. Catching reef fish and shallow trolling are allowed in the buffer zones (immediately outside the core area).
However, all forms of fishing are banned for tourists. Locals may collect dry palm leaves, coconut husks and timber from certain locations.
The islands of AA.Madivaru, GDh.Dhigulaabadhoo and Sh.Farukolhu were previously listed on EPA’s list of ‘environmentally sensitive’ locations.