MALDIVES ALLOWS HARVESTING OF ENDANGERED TURTLES EGGS: Isn’t it the High Time Maldives Outlawed all Marine Turtle Egg Consumption.

All marine turtles not all the eggs are protected in the Maldives and the most recent legislative measure to conserve turtles came into effect from January 2006, when for the first time harvesting turtle eggs from 14 islands was prohibited in the Maldives. In addition, the regulation prohibited catching or killing of any marine turtle species nationwide, and their sale, import and export of its products for ten years.

Bluepeace from very its inception in 1989 has been adamantly advocating for the conservation of marine turtles in the Maldives. Prior to the Rio Summit in 1992, the Maldives was the second largest exporter of the tortoiseshell (hawksbill turtle shells) in the world, and Bluepeace felt the seriousness of the issue, and raised our concern with the President of the Maldives and requested to take measures to protect the endangered turtles in the Maldives. Few months later, the Government enforced a tortoiseshell  export ban, while the export of processed ornamentals made from tortoiseshell was permitted. Even then it was prohibited to capture Hawksbill turtles less than two feet (61cm) in carapace length and other turtles less than two and half feet (76cm) carapace length.

The Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) , a leading non-profit organization that works undercover to fight environmental crime in March 1995 found tortoiseshell products were openly available in shops in Colombo despite a complete ban on its sale in Sri Lanka. The EIA infiltrated the trade and their investigation revealed that four main dealers were exporting tortoiseshell to Sri Lanka from Maldives, often smuggled in consignments of dried fish, and tracked down the biggest supplier in the Maldives. The entire EIA investigation was filed with hidden camera. On 30 March 1995 as part of the “Animal Detectives” series British national television broadcasted the entire investigation.

Under heavy pressure from environmentalists around the world and even threatening to boycott Maldives resorts, intervention of Parliamentarians from Europe and at a time when momentum was gathering for huge protest in front of the Travel Market in London by environmental groups. Bowing to this pressure, the Maldives Government had an Emergency Cabinet meeting on 21 June 1995 to protect marine turtles.

The Emergency Cabinet decided a 10 ten year moratorium prohibiting catching or killing of any marine turtle species, and their sale, import and export of its products for ten years. However, the poaching of marine turtle eggs was not banned. According to the Press Release the Cabinet decision was “aimed at conserving the dwindling turtle population in the Maldivian waters, which the Government saw as a serious threat to the marine environment of the country.” The Press Release also stated that the Government of the Maldives had decided to take a number of other measures towards conserving marine turtle. They consist of “the formulation of legislation for protecting endangered species, the setting up of sanctuaries for turtle conservation and the presentation of national awards for conservationists.”

When the first 10 years moratorium expired on 2004, it was extended for another 10 years in 2006, apart from prohibiting catching or killing of any marine turtle species, and their sale, import and export of its products for ten years, for the first time harvesting turtle eggs from 14 islands has been included. The Press Release  by the Fisheries Ministry says that while the new 10-year moratorium was adopted after the earlier one expired in 2004, catching turtles and taking turtle eggs from specific islands were banned because it takes a long time for turtles to grow and because the measures taken before to protect sea turtles did not show satisfying results. However, Fisheries Ministry’s announcement said that when banned on catching or killing was imposed in 1995, turtles have started to become more visible in the waters of the Maldives.

Turtle egg harvesting has been banned from the following islands, but not enforced in the Maldives. HA. Mulidhoo, HDH. Muiree, HDh. Vaikaramuraidhoo, R. Furaveri, R. Vandhoo, B. Maamaduvvari, B. Maaddoo, B. Olhugiri, B. Miriyandhoo, Th. Kanimeedhoo, Th. Fonaudoo, Th. Kandoodhoo, L. Gaadhoo, GDh. Gan.

Under the 2006 ten years moratorium, 14 sanctuaries have been declared protected and its nesting beaches in the Maldives. Sadly there has been no proper management and enforcement of regulations.  Some of the resorts do protect the nesting beaches, however most nesting beaches are not protected from human encroachment. Eggs harvesting and even removing eggs from turtles stomach while it alive and illegal poaching of turtles have become most critical issue facing in the Maldives to save dwindling stock of marine turtles.

The Maldives should declare a nationwide total ban on harvesting of turtle eggs, and properly protect and manage feeding grounds and other important habitats for effective conservation and management of these interesting endangered turtles. Almost all the uninhabited islands are leased to individuals or companies. The Government should include a new clause prohibiting the harvesting of turtle eggs from their nests and to protect the nesting beaches to the existing agreement on leasing of uninhabited islands. However, this would not solve the problem of poaching of eggs completely without strict enforcement.

While enforcement of regulation is critical, refreshing public memory on the need to protect and preserve turtle population in Maldives has also become important. Responsible public agencies, such as Island Councils, civil society organisations and media should make an effort to raise awareness on and enforce the regulations on turtle protection.


Anderson R. C and Waheed A (1990) Exploratory fishing for large pelagic species in the Maldives. Bay of Bengal Programme. BOBP/REP/46: 46pp.

Didi N. T. H (1993) DhivehirajjeygaiUlheyVelaa.Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture of Fisheries and Agriculture Malé Republic of Maldives. 74pp.

Frazier J. G (1975) Marine turtles of the Western Indian Ocean.Oryx. XIII (2): 164-175.
Frazier J. G., Salas S., Didi N. T. H (1984) Marine turtles in the Maldives Archipelago. Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture of fisheries Malé Maldives. 53pp.

Gardiner J. S (1906) The fauna and geography of the Maldive and Laccadive Archipelago. Cambridge University press.2 vols.

Hackett H. E (1977) Marine algae known from the Maldive islands.Atoll Research Bulletin. 210: iii + 30.

Laidlaw F. F (1903) In: Gardiner J. S The fauna and geography of the Maldives and Laccadive Archipelago 1: 119-122.



Impact of Tsunami on Indian Mangroves



Organised and managed waste disposal programmes or systems are not common place in the Maldives. Mostly in the local islands, the island administration (Island Office) does not provide any municipal service. The island administration or local authorities currently are not mandated to provide services such as waste collection or disposal. Instead individuals or households dispose waste as they see fit, creating environmental hazards.

A lorry carrying domestic waste collected at Male’ Waste Collection Centre to be transported to Thilafushi to be disposed.

This year the Maldives is going to introduce Local Governments in island communities in a comprehensive way for the first time in its history to promote or improve the economic, social, and the environmental well-being of the island communities. Though Maldives never had Local Governments in this form, the Maldives has a traditional system of local government. The present system of island administration is not well-suited to the changing life patterns that it has to deal with. For instance, only a couple of decades ago most waste produced on the islands of the Maldives was biodegradable.  Today local authorities or island administrations are not capable of dealing with non-biodegradable alien products such as plastics and hazardous waste.

Domestic waste from Male is transported in lorries to Thilafushi by a landing craft.

Currently there are limited organised means for waste disposal in the country. For Greater Male’ region a lagoon-fill site at Thilafushi is being used. There is also a waste disposal programme presently undergoing in the North Province which is administered by the Maldives Environment Management Project and funded by the World Bank.

Refuse or waste collection can be the most routine and visible activities of the local council in order to promote or improve the environmental well-being of the people of local council area.

Legally, local councils are required by the Local Government Act to collect and dispose of the waste produced in the local area. This requirement aims to promote and improve the environmental well-being of the people of local council area.  Each local council can make its own decisions as to the method and timing of waste collection.

The local councils or their agents have to deal with all wastes, such as all household waste, street litter, municipal parks and garden waste, council office waste and some commercial and industrial waste. In an average a household in the capital Male’ an individual produces 2.8kg of waste per day and in the atolls around 0.66kg of waste is produced by an individual on a daily basis. The waste produced by the tourism industry stands at 7.2kg per guest per day, and a huge proportion of these wastes are dumped into the ocean.

Introduction of bins to collect waste and establish an economically viable waste management regime with emphasis on establishing a competitive recycling programme should be one of the major challenges for the local government.

Waste disposal is one of the critical environmental issues throughout the Maldives for some time, and environment has been placed under increasing pressure. A number of waste disposal projects have been inefficiently implemented without much success.

A Waste Collection Centre lying idle for more than four years in  Raa Hulhuduffaaru without a proper waste management regime.

Following the Asian Tsunami, various donors actively participated and supported the waste management regimes, by creating waste disposal centres. The Australian and Canadian Red Cross Societies jointly funded a project worth AU$9.5 million to implement a sustainable waste management programme in the Maldives. The project aims to strengthen the solid waste management system of domestic garbage. Under the project 80 waste management centres were built in 74 of the most tsunami-affected islands. Unfortunately, most of these centres are not sustainable, as the facilities lack adequate management with absence of proper waste management laws.

Waste collected near the beach in Raa Hulhuduffaaru, not taken into the Waste Collection Centre.

The bulk of Local Government spending is going to be financed by grant from the Central Government; however the Local Government Act of 2010 empowers the Atoll Council to charge a fee for the services they provide in their wards.  For a sustainable management of a refuse collection programme, a direct charge for waste by weight, volume, or a combination of both, should be imposed.   A variable charging for domestic and non-domestic waste can strongly influence recycling and encourage waste minimisation behaviour.

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