[Coral-List] Seagrass smothering in the Maldives (fwd)

Iain Benson iain at xenon.upton.biz
Mon May 16 08:16:57 EDT 2005

Please see forwarded message.  Rejected intially as I sent it from the
wrong account (unregistered with the list).  Apologies for the mistake.

Iain Benson

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 19:37:54 +0100 (BST)
From: Iain Benson <iain at xenon.upton.com>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov.
Subject: Seagrass smothering in the Maldives

Dear List members,

A former colleague and friend of mine, working for a well known resort in 
the Maldives Islands (which for now shall remain unnamed), has recently 
alerted me to a destructive 
project being undertaken with instruction from the resort manager.

A project to destroy the seagrass beds in the lagoon just off the beach is 
underway. The reason being that future guests expect clean blue water to 
swim in and no washed up grass on the beaches in the morning. The resort 
was badly damaged 
by the tsunami last December and is most probably not going to re-open 
within the year, the staff are evidently being kept busy with interesting 
projects such as this.
The method they are using involves laying down sheets of plastic over the 
seagrass and weighing this down with bags full of sand thereby smothering 
the grass, leaving it and other benthic fauna and flora to rot. There is video
footage showing small fish being trapped under the plastic.

My friend has tried to reason with the manager citing various research 
into the importance of sea grass bed communities and their place in the 
reef ecosystem as nursery grounds for fish - which the tourists come to 
see.  Unfortunately there seems to be no way of making the 
management stop this terrible project, even though many of the employees
being forced to take part know that it is ecologically unsound.

Initially, this is driven by an uninformed attitude of resort guests but 
the resort is perfectly capable of producing educational information. 
I would like to know if the resort has carte blanche regarding what 
it does with the areas below the low water mark in the Maldives?  Is 
there anyone this activity can be reported to?  Perhaps someone on the 
list works in an advisory capacity to resorts (maybe even in the 
Maldives) and can post some advice? 
I would appreciate any suggestions,

Many thanks in advance.


Iain R. Benson

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