Publication Date

Spring 5-2013

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Preeti Shroff-Mehta

Second Advisor

Richard Rees

Abstract

On June 5, 2009 a 42-­‐km2 area of coral reef situated in the Alif Dhaalu (South Ari) atoll of the Republic of Maldives was designated the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (S.A. MPA) due to a globally significant whale shark aggregation site. The whale shark is notorious for its gargantuan size and docile nature, which has led to a burgeoning tourist industry that gives people the opportunity to swim with the gentle giants in tropical sites such as the Maldives. The S.A. MPA receives tens of thousands of visitors a year that engage in whale shark excursions, however, there is a dearth of monitoring and enforcement of the protected area and no formal Management Plan has been implemented since the declaration of the MPA. The lack of management has led to overcrowding of vessels engaging in whale shark excursions, thereby making it dangerous for the safety of tourists while also jeopardizing the sustainability of the critical whale shark habitat and the area’s natural endowment. This paper is based on my personal contributions to an advocacy initiative coordinated by the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme to lobby the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a collaborative Management Plan for the S.A. MPA. A contextualization of the issues surrounding the S.A. MPA is given. Details of the advocacy strategy and methodology used are presented. And a policy paper with a corresponding evaluation is put forward. The paper concludes with lessons learned from working on the initiative.

Disciplines

Biodiversity | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Policy | Marine Biology | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability