EPA slaps MVR100m fine for reef damage

EPA slaps MVR100m fine for reef damage
March 26 13:55 2018

The Environment Protection Agency has ordered two vessels that ran aground on a reef in December 2015 to pay MVR100 million (US$6.5 million) as compensation for damages.

Mainland Shipping Pvt Ltd, the local agent of the Mutha Royal tugboat and Mutha Grace barge, was instructed on March 14 to settle the fine within a month, the EPA said in a press release on Sunday.

A survey conducted after the vessels were re-floated found extensive damage in 4,370 square meters of the Fushidhiggaru reef in Kaafu atoll. The EPA noted that MVR100 million was the maximum fine allowed under the 1993 Environment Protection Act.

Earlier this week, the agency cautioned against sand mining from uninhabited islands, which accelerates beach erosion, threatening to impose hefty fines for violations.

Citing a recent uptick in complaints, the EPA noted that sand, pebbles, coral and rock can only be mined from designated islands or sandbanks. Illegal sand mining has been noticed ahead of Ramadan every year when households are renovated, it added.

An audit report released in 2015 revealed that the government was owed at least MVR45 million (US$2.9 million) in unpaid fines for environmental damages.

The owner of a Thai fishing vessel that ran aground on the reef near Shangri-La Villigili Island Resort in November 2011 failed to pay an MVR42.1 million (US$2.7 million) fine, the report said.