President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has decided to list whale sharks as a protected species in the Maldives under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act.
The decision was made following cabinet recommendations and deliberations on a paper presented during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Whale sharks were previously designated as a protected species under the Fisheries Act.
The cabinet paper proposed that the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act would provide the most effective framework for the conservation and management of whale sharks instead, following the observation that the Maldivian fishing industry nor fishing industries worldwide regarded whale sharks as a viable fishery species.
The paper also highlighted the Maldives' conservation challenges for whale sharks and their ecosystem.
The Cabinet paper additionally emphasized how the conservation and management of whale sharks under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act would safeguard the species' habitat and overcome conservation obstacles.
The paper also noted prospective environmental, social, and economic benefits.
As of July 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified whale sharks as an endangered species on its red list.