BAA ATOLL RESORTS UNITED
Reethi Beach launched the Baa Atoll Project (BAP), an independent union of all the resorts and dive centers in the atoll, in 2007. In 2011 it was registered as an official NGO – under the new name BAARU (Baa Atoll Resorts United).
The respective representatives initially gathered to find means to counter the decline of shark populations in the area, and have subsequently dealt with many other topics.
With the participation of representatives from all regional islands and administrative areas, ministry deputies, spokespersons for the national safari boat and fishing associations, BAP was soon playing a pivotal role being actively involved in environmental and social issues throughout the entire Northern Province.
At meetings of the Baa Atoll Project, the topics listed below, among others, have been discussed, decisions reached, codes of conduct established, rules and regulations implemented.
- In 2008 a Fish Purchasing Policy was agreed upon, introducing binding guidelines for all resorts within the atoll, regarding both the purchase of supplies from local fishermen as well as recreational fishing excursions with guests.
- A code of conduct and rotation system was implemented for boat traffic within Hanifaru Bay with safari- and excursion-boat operators as well as, neighboring resorts as signatories, providing a much-needed step to protect this bay – world famous for whale shark and manta ray sightings.
- As agreed by moratorium, all the resorts in Baa Atoll stopped diving operations in the Hanifaru Bay in 2011 – a measure stipulated by law only from 2012.
- Reethi Beach and Sea Explorer Divers have trained the first official Baa Atoll Marine Ranger to monitor Hanifaru Bay.
- In cooperation with the AEC, Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project, BAARU has supported the candidacy of the entire Baa Atoll to be designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This appointment was made in July 2011.
In addition, the following environmental policies have been implemented:
- By the end of 2009, shark fishing within a two-mile zone around the Maldives was prohibited.
- In July 2010 the law prohibiting the trade with all shark products was ratified. The island resorts provide financial and/or organizational support for the re-deployment and re-training of the population formerly engaged in the shark fishing industry.
Partnership agreements with neighboring inhabited islands are encouraged and BAARU serves as a contact for the planned introduction of a centralized waste disposal system throughout the Northern Province – while other resorts in Raa, Lhaviyani and Noonu Atoll and all inhabited islands in the four atolls are encouraged to be a part of the discussion process.
BAARU also maintains contacts with national and international environmental groups supporting their respective projects, such as Shark Savers and Shark Project.
As a precursor to a night fishing-free Baa Atoll, Reethi Beach Resort pioneered the removal of night fishing from its excursion program - one of the first resorts in the Maldives to apply this restriction.
“The reefs of our atoll are in pristine condition, the fish life is dazzling, and whether you are a diver or a snorkeler, the unspoiled beauty of the underwater life is readily apparent.”