Tourism Ministry to amend regulation permitting disposal of waste into the sea

Parliament Committee on Environment and Climate change | photo: Parliament

Male’, Maldives – The Tourism Ministry of Maldives has stated that it is working to amend a regulation that permits resorts to dispose waste into the ocean.

At present, resorts can dispose food and other perishable goods into the ocean in instances where there is no other location to dispose waste nearby, as stated in the regulation by the Ministry in 2006. The waste is to be disposed into the ocean taking into account the tides and current in a way that the waste is carried out of the atoll.

A number of resorts in the Maldives practice the disposal of waste into the ocean under the regulation while many others outsource waste disposal. Some of the items disposed into the sea includes plastic bottles and other damaging items to the environment. Complaints of such waste beaching onto inhabited islands have been recorded numerous times.

Members and officials of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO), Environment Ministry, Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Tourism Ministry were summoned to the Parliament’s Committee on Environment and Climate Change today.

Deputy Minister of the Tourism Ministry Assad Riza stated that the main cause of the issue was that contradictions between regulations were not taken into account when waste management regulations came into existence while noting that complaints of resorts disposing of non perishable waste were also received.

The Ministry had been working on amending the regulation since 2019 and work is still underway. He estimated that the amendments to the regulation could be finalized and published on the gazette within two or three months. Assad also said that the Ministry had issued a circular to resorts against disposing of waste into the ocean until the regulation was amended. He added that the Ministry prioritized the protection of the environment.

EPA Director General Ibrahim Naeem said that the actions of the resorts were still being continued despite the circular and that complaints were received on a daily basis. He emphasized that the issue could only be resolved by amending the regulation and implementing it fully.

MATI’s environment consultant Abdul Azeez Abdul Hakeem said that the waste disposal facility in R. Vandhoo needs to be made operational at the earliest to prevent resorts from disposing of waste into the ocean. Adding that similar facilities were required all across the nation.

Abdul Azeez recommended the use of specialized biodegradable packaging and using designated waste collection vehicles. Stating that waste from resorts should not be transported to inhabited islands in any manner due to fears of a disease outbreak.