New scheme to protect coral reefs

A new project has been introduced to safeguard marine life in the Maldives, particularly the dwindling coral reefs. The new scheme has been initiated by local environmental consultancy Seamarc, in collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and travel company Kuoni. Speaking at the launch of the project at the Nalahiya hotel in Male, Matthias Leisinger - Kuoni's head of Corporate Responsibility - said it is aimed at the long-term sustainability of the holiday destination. As part of the scheme, experts will concentrate on the protection and management of the island country's house reefs. Although house reefs act as marine protected areas (MPA), they are subject to destructive and polluting activities in certain cases. Ambiguous boundaries often lead to "unacceptable use of the reefs by outsiders leading to conflicts between the resort and local people". An MPA management plan will be trialled under the project, which will include ecological surveys as well as the appointment of a warden to "drive away intruders". It will also involve training sessions and workshops for resort employees and local communities, where they will be guided on how to monitor coral bleaching.

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