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|Title: ||Environmental impact assessment proposed milkfish aquaculture project Matu, Gaafu Alif Atoll|
|Keywords: ||Legislative and regulatory consideration|
|Issue Date: ||Jul-2017|
|Citation: ||Sandcays. (2017). Environmental impact assessment proposed milkfish aquaculture project Matu, Gaafu Alif Atoll. Male': Maldives|
|Abstract: ||This report addresses the environmental concerns of the proposed milkfish (Chanos chanos)
hatchery project in Ga. Matu. The project is proposed by Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture.
Concerns about live-bait availability over prolonged periods are being raised in recent years,
especially in the southern atolls of Maldives. The development of aquaculture for selected bait
species is seen as one possible measure to manage the live bait shortage currently faced by local
fishermen. Cultured milkfish has been in use for the longlining industry in different parts of the
world, and successfully piloted for the pole-and-line industry in Indonesia and Kiribati. Unlike
most of the live bait species currently in use in the pole-and-line fishery, hatchery technology
is well developed for milkfish. In addition, the relatively short duration to reach bait-size makes
milkfish an ideal species for aquaculture development.
Supplementing the tuna fishermen with cultured bait is expected to reduce the time spent on
bait search, and in turn, result in increased effort directed to the tuna fishery.
As live bait shortage is mostly reported from the southern atolls, the proposed hatchery site was
selected from Gaafu Alif atoll, for logistical ease in distribution for the most needed areas can
The selected island, Matu from Ga. Atoll is 5.9 Ha small uninhabited island on the northern
side of Ga.Atoll. The closest inhabited islands to the project site are Ga. Villingili and
Kolamaafushi. The project aims to produce 100 tons of milkfish raised to the size of live bait
used in the pole-and-line fishery. All required technical and support infrastructure will be
constructed during the construction phase of the project. The operational phase will involve
water circulation, feeding and rearing of cultured stock.
In addition to hatchery, nursery and broodstock modules built on land, sea cages will be built
for brood stock. Power will be provided for the project via diesel generators, while potable
water will be provided via RO plants. Accommodation for staff and administrative buildings
and waste management centre will also be constructed on the island. Access to the island will
be provided via access channel and a jetty. The naturally deep lagoon will be used as a harbour
during the project.
Social and environmental concerns regarding the proposed project include: • Vegetation clearance during site preparation for construction of land infrastructures.
This impact is considered minor negative as outmost care will be taken to reduce cutting
down mature vegetation. Buildings will be adjusted as much as possible to reduce
requirement of cutting or relocation of mature trees. When unavoidable, two plants for
every tree cut will be planted on the island.
• Sedimentation during excavation of access channel and construction of main jetty. This
impact is considered as negligible as the excavation involved is very minor. Measures
to reduce this impact such as working during calm weather and low-tide has been
suggested as mitigation measures.
• Minor impacts due to human activity in the area including littering both during
construction and operational phases.
• 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.
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
(potential to reduce pressure on wild populations of baitfish), it is recommended to allow the
project to proceed as proposed. 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
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