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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed seagrass removal at Maafaru Island, Noonu Atoll
Authors: ސީޑީއީ ކޮންސަލްޓިންގު
CDE Consulting
Issue Date: Aug-2017
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2017). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed seagrass removal at Maafaru Island, Noonu Atoll. Male': Maldives.
Abstract: This document is submitted to the Environment Protection Agency, by the proponent to fulfil the requirement of an EIA under the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act (EPPA) of the Maldives (4/93). This report provides the background to the proposed project components as well as an assessment of their likely environmental and social impacts, both beneficial and adverse. The proposed enhancement and mitigation measures are outlined where necessary together with an environment management plan and a monitoring programme. The project involves the removal of seagrass colonies from the eastern side of the island next to the existing settlement. The aim is to create a safe recreational swimming area for the local community. At the moment, Maafaru Island contains the largest seagrass colony in the northern Maldives and covers almost all coastal areas around the existing settlement. Locals are currently reluctant to use the lagoon for swimming as the seagrass is not conducive for standing upon and swimming. The low visibility also makes it risky for swimmers with chances of stepping on poisonous creatures such as urchins and rays. Project activities will be in conformance to the laws and regulations of the Maldives, and relevant international conventions that Maldives is party to. The key laws and regulations applicable to this project are: Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012, Dredging and Reclamation Regulation, Waste Management Regulation 2013, and the Environmental Liability Regulation. The project parameters cannot adhere to the dredging reclamation regulation as is states that no dredging can be undertaken within 500 m form the ocean side reef edge and 50 m from vegetation line. The island‟s eastern shoreline is located within 500 m of the ocean side reef edge and proposed swimming area covers areas within 50 m of the shoreline. Therefore, discussions must be held between the proponent and the Ministry before the commencement of the project in order to solve this issue. The assessment shows that the proposed development involves major impacts on the marine environment particularly temporary loss of benthic organisms, and potential changes to coastal hydrodynamics and beach stability. Key mitigation measures for the construction stage include undertake construction works during calm weather conditions as much as possible particularly when wave activity is calmer, and carrying out the activities in as short a time period as possible to allow normal conditions to reestablish in the area as soon as possible. Operational stage impacts are limited to potential erosion arising from changes to the coastal hydrodynamics. The changes to the beach will likely occur as the new beach system tries to achieve equilibrium with the changed coastal conditions. However as it is not possible to determine beforehand whether this will occur, no specific erosion prevention measures are proposed but appropriate action will be decided after monitoring the changes. The alternatives were evaluated for the project but the current designs and methods have been preferred due to the significant advantages that the proposed design has over alternatives. An alternative location which was considered on the South East section of the island was rejected due to the practical, financial, and environmental limitations. Other locations could not be considered as significant developments have been proposed for locations both to the North and South of the existing community. The only feasible location is the proposed location on the North West of the island. Silt screens were considered as an alternative sedimentation control measure. However given the small size of the project area, the use of the proposed bund walls is preferred as it is more financially feasible. Monitoring of the project is crucial particularly the changes to hydrodynamics, shoreline, water quality, and lagoon benthos recovery. Particular attention should be given to monitor the erosion patterns along the Eastern section of Maafaru island. The management plan for this project is designed to produce a framework for anticipated impacts, including practicable and achievable performance requirements and systems for monitoring, reporting and implementing corrective actions. In addition provide evidence of compliance to legislation, policies, guidelines and requirements of relevant authorities. In conclusion, the project provides significant socio-economic benefits for the local community.
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