Six Senses Laamu’s marine team Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) has launched the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign to protect seagrass at all resorts in Maldives.
Despite being one of the most valuable ecosystems on the planet, seagrass is being deliberately removed so as to maintain the white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters prized by the tourism industry in the Maldives.
“We’re only just beginning to comprehend the scale of the problem in the Maldives. In a survey of 49 resorts, we found that 50 per cent of those that have seagrass actively remove it — and those are just the ones admitting to it,” Natasha Prokop, MUI head marine biologist, was quoted in a statement, as saying.
“Resorts mostly remove their seagrass for aesthetic reasons, ignoring the ecosystem services it provides in favour of potential for the tourism industry.”
Dr Paul York, a world-renowned expert on seagrass from James Cook University in Australia, spoke out against the controversial practice at a recent seminar on seagrass at the Maldives National University.
“It is deeply concerning that resorts are removing one of the most important ecosystems in our biosphere. Seagrass is a vital food source for the endangered green sea turtles, it supports healthier coral reefs, fights climate change, offers coastal protection and supports commercial fisheries,” he said.
Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu general manager, has seen the benefits seagrass has had on tourism since the resort pledged to help protect it almost two years ago.
“Whether it’s watching green sea turtles feed meters from their villas or snorkelling alongside eagle rays, numerous guests have praised us for pledging to help protect our seagrass. This feedback from guests shows that seagrass and tourism can coexist — with overwhelming benefits to all parties,” she said.