|Abstract: ||1. This Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is to fulfill the regulatory requirements under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives prior to the proposed harbor development at Hulhumeedhoo in Addu City. 2. Project proponent of the proposed harbor development project is Ministry of Housing and Environment. The project was bided as a design and build project. The contractor for the project is Works Corporation Limited. 3. The proposed development project involves construction of a harbor facility at Hulhumeedhoo, Addu City. Under the proposed project, a new harbor facility will be constructed in between Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo village at the lagoon area approximately 465m away from the existing shoreline. The proposed harbor’s eastern edge (main quay wall side) is aligned to the quay wall line marked in the land use plan of the island. Existing main access route will be maintenance dredged and used, while the shallow section leading to the proposed harbor will be deepened. Strip of land behind harbor will be reclaimed to use as harbor front, while a reclaimed walkway will connect the harbor to the island. 4. The island of Hulhumeedhoo lies at the north eastern corner of Addu, separate from the other three inhabited islands. The island is triangular in shape, while at the southern side Kedevaaheraa is joined with Hulhumeedhoo. Previously Herethere was also joined, but few years back a channel was dug separating the two islands. Measuring 2.3 km in length (approximate length to channel area) and around 1.7 km in width (at maximum), the island covers an area of approximately 283ha; the island is oriented north to south, while the northern side is wider. The island is located at 00° 35' 19" N and 73° 13' 53" E. 5. The design of the harbor is formulated in light of future development. The land use plan of the island is done with a harbor basin in between Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo village of size 786m by 222m. Due to budgetary constraints the proposed harbor size will be 366m by 91m. The sediment generated by the proposed project is too little for the level of reclamation proposed in the land use plan (sediment required for reclamation according to the land use plan is approximately 700,000m3, sediment generated from the proposed project is 110333m3), therefore a temporary access road is proposed connecting the island and harbor facility. 6. The harbor front area proposed for reclamation is 514m long and 100m, while a 30m wide and 372.8m long access road will connect the harbor to the island. The proposed harbor design includes 366m long main quay wall and 152m length of side quay walls (two side quay wall length). The main quay wall and side quay walls will be constructed of L section concrete elements. The proposed entrance channel will be 748m long, from this 125m is existing cleared (previously blasted areas) area where depth exceeds design depth of -3MSL. Approximately 623m length of entrance channel will require excavation to attain design depth of -3MSL. The harbor design includes a side quay wall at the southern side and northern for use as fish land and loading and unloading area respectively. The harbor basin and entrance channel will have a finish depth of -3MSL. 7. Although reefs are closely associated with harbors as in typical reef flat environments where the reef edge is close to the harbor basin the environmental setting at Hulhumeedhoo is somewhat different. There is no proper consolidated reef slope as a continuous reef morphological feature. It is rather a discontinuous reef margin with isolated reef patches that reach to a few meters below the sea surface. As such there is an extensive lagoon of several kilometers wide starting from the rudimentary or discontinuous reef to the shoreline. The distance between the edge of proposed harbor and reef slope is estimated over 2 km. There are several patch reefs as larger reef areas and smaller coral out crops within the larger lagoonal area. 8. 20 genera were recorded on reef flat among all coral patches surveyed. Porites, Goniastrea and Favia and Favites were the dominant genera recorded. Many massive colonies of Porites lobata and Goniastrea retiformis were observed in the area, many of the colonies exceeding 1m in maximum in diameter. Encrusting life form of Echinopora lamellose colonies were also
observed in high numbers. Among other poritids, Porites lutea, Porites rus was recorded. The most dominant live coral groups are of massive growth forms such as Poritids and Faviids. Other encrusting species recorded includes, Favites Abdita, Favites helicora, Pavona varians, Astreopora myriophthalma, Pocillopora demicornis, Platygyra sinensis. 9. Sea grass forms the dominant benthic marine ecosystem where the proposed harbor would be located. The dominant species are Thallassia hemprichii, Thalassodendron ciliate, Syringodium
filiforme, commercially important seaweed Eucheuma cotoni fc sp was present at various location of the sea grass meadow. This species does not naturally occur in the Maldives. Therefore the occurrence of this species in this area is difficult to explain. However, this species was a mariculture species that was introduced to Maldives as a commercially viable species for export. Several efforts were made to culture this in wild such as in Laamu and Baa atoll. The brood stock for this was made available from Marine Research Centre of Maldives who shows interest to culture this in the wild. As such this species may have been introduced to this environment and may be the reason for the presence of this species in this habitat. 10. The shoreline of the proposed harbor location and vicinity is predominantly inter-tidal forming small creeks and tributaries at various location of the shoreline during low tide. As such this habitat becomes an important feeding habitat for several species of sea birds, fiddler crabs and sea shells. A significant habitat within the intertidal area there the island community boasts as a mud crab breading habitat is located at the southern end of the bay. The islanders apparently collect adult mud crabs (Scylla serreta). This is a commercially important species of a crab that has high value both locally and internationally. Countries such as Sri Lanka and India produce this in large numbers as cultured species. Although no adult individuals were found from the wild during the field visit several number of juveniles were found during the field surveys confirming the presence of brood stock in the vicinity. Based on their estimated abundance it is likely that the crabs can be cultured that could
provide lucrative income to the island community especially with potential sale of this to the tourist industry. To explore the viability of culturing mud crabs locally it is therefore important to ensure that the brood stock and their habitat are appropriately safeguarded.
With the construction of the harbor and future development plan for this area currently at planning stage have the potential to threaten or endanger this habitat. Even if the commercial value of the habitat is not seen significant from current perception the ecological
importance of these types of habitats are significant nationally. Coastal development projects such as these should give due consideration to protect ecological integrity of the ecosystem where ever possible through appropriate design and decision making. 11. Most significant impact associated with the project would be impact on the marine environment from sedimentation. Dredging and excavation often carry a heavy load of sediments increasing sediment load in the water column causing discoloration (limiting light penetration which is essential for coral growth) due to suspended sediments of the impact area for a prolonged period. 12. The reclamation works will cause loss of sea grass habitat and associated organism, this impact is an unavoidable impact. Also it has to be noted that a larger reclamation component is proposed at this area according to the land use plan. Potential commercially important area is located at the southern side of the proposed harbor, north of Hulhudhoo harbor (mud crab habitat), which will be indirectly impacts due to the proposed project in terms of sedimentation and smothering. This habitat is a muddy inter tidal area, therefore impacts is envisaged to be minor to moderate. But if the larger reclamation is anticipated in the future, this habitat will be lost, thereby causing habitat loss (but it has to be noted that the scope of current EIA does not involve reclamation of bay area, but disposal of dredged material and connection of harbor and island). 13. Mitigation measures are provided in the report for impacts that were categorized minor to moderate. Impact mitigation measures and monitoring is carried out to compare predicted and actual impacts occurring from project activities to determine the efficiency of the mitigation measures. The timing of future reclamation works is not yet decided, therefore temporary protection shoreline measures has to be considered for the reclaimed strip of land and access route. The mitigation measures proposed includes construction of revetments at the erosion prone areas that were identified by the consultants after reviewing the concept plan. Any erosion at the reclaimed area has the potential to cause sedimentation and water quality impacts, therefore shoreline monitoring has to be carried out to identify erosion areas and take mitigation measures. 14. With due consideration to main environmental components identified and the magnitude of impacts on these components from the proposed developments, the consultant concludes that the project components and designs are feasible and appropriate mitigation measures are given to correct and minimize unfavorable environmental consequences. Furthermore, the public and community consultation responses were in favor of the project due to the socioeconomic benefits foreseen to the community from a functional harbor.|