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dc.identifier.citationSandcays. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed sea cucumber aquaculture project at Fonadhoo, Laamu Atoll. Male': Maldivesen_US
dc.description.abstractThis report addresses the environmental concerns of the proposed mariculture project for the culture of sea cucumbers in the northeast lagoon of Fonadhoo, Laamu Atoll. The Proponent of the project is BluBridge Corporation, which is a company registered in the Maldives in February 2011. BluBridge is involved in research and development of new products and processes for the market. This project is an investment of $41,000,000 USD over the next two decades for a commercial scale sea cucumber hatchery, grow-out, and processing operation. Based on the successful execution of the feasibility study, BluBridge has confidence that the scientific, environmental, and social settings in the Maldives are conducive to the success of the commercial operation outlined in this document. BluBridge desires to capitalize on the growing global demand for beche-de-mer by developing a community-integrated operation in Laamu Atoll, Maldives for the purpose of culturing, processing, and exporting sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra). The project will also include research and feasibility studies for culturing, processing, and exporting the native species Holothuria fuscogilva. This venture is created in cooperation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Maldives Government plans for diversification. With fish stocks in decline and vast amounts of potential lagoon space unused, the Ministry of Fisheries has made clear the desire for diversification. BluBridge will create unparalleled opportunity for the production and export of sea cucumbers, opening up lucrative diversified business prospects for the country. Moreover, BluBridge will continue to train local island communities, empowering them to execute similar ventures. BluBridge is committed to holistic community development throughout the course of this project, where opportunities for youth and women abound. The proposed project takes place in the northeast area of Fonadhoo, which is the capital of Laamu Atoll connected to the neighbouring Kahdhoo domestic airport by a causeway and also connects to the largest landmass in the country, Fonadhoo to Gan. BluBridge has researched and surveyed a site on the Eastern side of Laamu Atoll in a lagoon (10ha) to the northeast of Fonadhoo finding them to be ideal conditions for the culture of sea cucumbers. The site can be used for Hapa nursery and Ranch space with little or no disturbance to Fonadhoo or current use of its land. The ocean floor is sandy deep sediment mixture with extensive sea grass growth throughout. The proposed project involves the culture of H. Scabra. The initial stage of the project which was focussed on feasibility study and determining the suitability of the project site for growout has been completed. This EIA covers the establishment of hatchery and grow out on a commercial scale with a capacity of 120,000 juveniles per month output. The growout area is proposed to be fenced using geotextile tubes. The operation outlined in this EIA is for a 5 years of development and 15 years of operation. The operation in Laamu Atoll will utilize 10 hectares (ha) of lagoon space near Fonadhoo and Huraa Island for nursery, grow-out, and perimeter security, and 2 ha of land space on Fonadhoo for the hatchery complex. BluBridge staff with training from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) have direct management of the operation in L. Fonadhoo and Malé-based staff are being used for marketing and administrative purposes. Broodstock and/or juveniles will be acquired from within the Maldives. The project will be undertaken by a $4,970,000 USD equity investment infused over the first three years of the project. This will create a full-scale mariculture operation that will have significant positive impacts for employees, the island of Fonadhoo, the greater Laamu region, and all aquaculture within Maldives. Fonadhoo has a recently installed sewerage system with treatment and the proposed project will have its sewer lines connected to this system after pre-treatment. Social and environmental concerns regarding the proposed project include:  Minor disturbance to seabed during installation of geotube placement and impacts of sediment suspension and resuspension in the lagoon and associated disturbance to ecological habitats due to such activities. This impact is not considered to be significant, especially if the filling of the tubes is undertaken by using sand pumps. However, there may be a slightly higher degree of impact if the works were undertaken using excavator.  Minor impacts due to human activity in the area including littering both during construction and operational phases.  The land areas to be developed are quite small. The possible areas have no mature trees and felling or cutting down of mature trees can and will be avoided. Therefore, there will be no significant impacts on terrestrial flora and fauna.  Increased nutrient loadings from faeces and uneaten food wastes, which will either dissolve or settle on the seabed beneath the cage. Since the water is deep and adequate currents exist, eutrophication is, however, unlikely. Also, sea cucumbers will feed on seagrass in the area and nutrients in the seabed. Therefore, they remove nutrients and help in cleaning the seabed sediments/nutrients.  The impact of disease transmissions on wild populations. This impact is considered to be minor negative and depends on stocking densities and feeding, which are not considered to be a problem. Environmental controls shall be established from the very onset of the project to mitigate disease prevalence and ensure a healthy environment.  Loss of visual amenity of the site. Visual amenity would be a concern, especially if the area is of aesthetic beauty or recreational (tourism) use, however, there are currently no such activities in the area. Yet, it may be necessary to keep the structures well integrated with the environment while ensuring safety.  The impact cages may have on wild fish populations. Although this impact is not considered to be significant, this impact has to be studied in detail during the implementation stage.  The genetic or competitive effect escapees may have on wild stock. Since juveniles that are not able to escape are used and exotic species would not be imported, this impact is unlikely to occur. In the case of cage culture using locally found species, genetic pollution will not be a concern even in case of escapees and new diseases will not be introduced to the wild stock. However, an incubation of local diseases present in the wild stock may be a potential cause for concern in case of high stocking densities. Therefore, stocking densities shall be kept to an optimum at all times. The likelihood for habitat modification could occur in case of imported broodstock causing stress and related disease prevalence. However, this is a minor impact that is not considered to be significant. The proposed project is expected to be managed in conformity with local and international regulations and standards of relevance, especially environmental regulations and standards. Therefore, environmental impacts will be well managed, minimized and mitigated. Given that the project has major socio-economic benefits and some environmental benefits, it is recommended to allow the project to proceed as proposed. While the project is accepted by the Council, there are certain issues, especially those related to the rent for the land, which would be resolved before the project can proceed. The project is also a feasible economic venture benefitting the community and in the absence of large scale aquaculture projects, it is important to consider uncertainties and continue to monitor the project impacts and undertake appropriate mitigation measures in consultation with the EPA and other relevant government agencies. It is also necessary to undertake regular environmental monitoring activities.en_US
dc.subjectAquaculture projectsen_US
dc.subjectMariculture projectsen_US
dc.subjectSea cucumbersen_US
dc.subjectLegislative and regulatory considerationsen_US
dc.subjectExisting environmenten_US
dc.subjectExisting socio-economic environmenten_US
dc.subjectConstructional impactsen_US
dc.subjectOperational impactsen_US
dc.subjectMitigation measuresen_US
dc.subjectEnvironmental monitoringen_US
dc.titleEnvironmental impact assessment for the proposed sea cucumber aquaculture project at Fonadhoo, Laamu Atollen_US
dc.typeTechnical Reporten_US
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