While little was accomplished during the recent Rio+20 UN summit, the Maldives nation did announce plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve. The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean and consists of 1,192 islands. The Maldives is the smallest nation in Asia and also greatly threatened by rising seas due to having the lowest average land height of any other country. Despite its limited size, the nation is making a major stride many other nations have not.
Prior to the start of Rio+20 Australia announced plans to create the world’s largest network of marine reserves. The reserves would include the Coral Sea and multiple smaller reserves surrounding the country. Although not yet approved it would be the world’s largest marine reserve in total. However, the recent announcement by the Maldives indicates it would succeed Australia for the title, however, exact figures have not been announced for the size of the Maldives reserve.
However, the president of the Maldives did announce the intention to make every island and surrounding water of the country a marine reserve. The plan is to have the reserve official by the year 2017. President Mohamed Waheed stated: “I would like to announce today Maldives will become the first country to become a marine reserve. It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world. This policy will allow only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. It will exclude deep-sea, purse-seining, and other destructive techniques.”
Areas of the Maldives are included in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The Maldives have also made other strides in protecting the biodiversity and well-being of the oceans surrounding the nation. For instance, sharks and turtles have sanctuary in the region alongside a multitude of other species. The marine reserve will ensure that all species that make the ocean rich in the region will be protected on some level.