EPA lifts suspension on land reclamation

Fushidhiggaru Falhu land reclamation project is inaugurated on December 18, 2023. (Photo/President's Office)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dropped earlier instructions to suspend land reclamation projects, amid mass coral bleaching triggered by record high ocean temperatures.

EPA ordered a halt in land reclamation projects on May 9. The agency dropped the emergency measure on Tuesday.

In its announcement, the EPA said it instructed the halt in land reclamation and dredging activities to minimize damage to coral reefs amid the mass bleaching event.

The agency stressed that while the measure has been dropped, the bleaching event remains active.

EPA appealed for land reclamation and dredging activities to remain suspended until August 31, “unless absolutely essential.”

Coral bleaching is when corals turn white due to various stressors. However, the leading cause of coral bleaching is climate change.

The world is currently experiencing the fourth global coral bleaching event, and the second one within the span of the year.

The Maldives Marine Research Institute warned in May that it was receiving reports of widespread coral bleaching across the country.

The coral bleaching alert level in the Maldives has since been downgraded from ‘alert level 2’ to “watch.”

Maldives experienced its first widespread coral bleaching incident in 1998.

According to MMRI, such incidents have increased in frequency.

The institute also warned that human activities - including dredging, land reclamation and beach nourishment - may impede coral recovery.