The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will reopen the call to submit expressions of interest (EOI) for the large-scale restoration of Rasfari reef in Malé Atoll, the agency has announced. This annuls the EPA’s original announcement made in January seeking a party to culture coral on the reef in order to restore damages caused when the Panama-registered MV Navios Amaryllis ran aground on the reef on 18 August 2021.

EPA Director General (DG) Ibrahim Naeem said the agency had decided to reopen the submission of expressions of interest because the fees proposed for the project exceeded the budget. The main requirement, according to Naeem, was to culture and foster coral growth while monitoring progress in a sustainable manner.

“Coral aquaculture is already being done at the Rasfari reef under the supervision of the EPA. Now we need people to take care of the singular aspects of the project,” the DG said.

Naeem said the project is eyeing an official launch next month.

Initial EPA assessments showed that 8,867 square metres of the reef were severely damaged and a large number of corals and other marine life were killed when the MV Navios Amaryllis ran aground Rasfari reef after its engines failed.

The owner of the vessel was initially ordered to pay MVR 893 million in fines and as compensation after the EPA survey. The amount was later reduced to a total of MVR 254 million, which was wired to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) public bank account, marking the largest amount ever recovered as fines under the Environmental Act. This is also the first time the state has received money on condition that it be spent specifically on repairing the environmental damage caused.