Maldivian President spares Thanburudhoo from development
Eight years after the fight began, Maldivian surfers have finally won protection for two of the Maldives best waves.
In 2012, it was announced that a foreign development company named Telos Investments had paid USD $5 million for the lease of Thanburudhoo Island at Kaafu Atoll, which included exclusive access to the waves breaking off its southern tip, Honkys and Sultans.
Over the next three years, Maldivian surfers fought that battle, till in 2015 then-President of the Maldives Abdulla Gayoom suspended the development. For the next five years a cloud of uncertainty hung over Thanburudhoo. As foreign investment turbocharged development in other parts of the island chain, local surfers waited for the next proposal at Thanburudhoo.
Last Thursday, however, they woke up to great news; local activist Ahmed Aznil saying it was, "one of the craziest things that has happened in my life."
Aznil was referring to the announcement from President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih that Thanburudhoo Island had been granted protected area status. The announcement doesn't protect Thanburudhoo from all development, though if any were to proceed they'd have to meet more stringent environmerntal guidelines.
Almost certainly, however, the two waves, Honkys and Sultans, will remain accesible to local surfers.
“The Maldives have hundreds of waves," Aznil told Swellnet back in 2016, "but truth is locals can only surf about four or five."
Last week's announcement ensures they always have access to Honkys and Sultans.
The Maldivian government has now declared 24 sites in seven atolls as protected areas. They plan to designate at least one island, one reef, and one mangrove, in each atoll as a protected area.