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Title: Environmental impact assessment proposed milkfish aquaculture project Matu, Gaafu Alif Atoll
Authors: Sandcays
Keywords: Legislative and regulatory consideration
Project description
Project alternatives
Existing environment
Stakeholder consultations
Environmental impacts
Environmental monitoring
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 be made. 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 monitoring activities.
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