The Maldives’ marine resources will be protected and thus surveyed, and mapped, by the nation itself, President Mohamed Muizzu has said.

Addressing the residents of Veymandoo Island in Thaa (Th) Atoll, the president explained that this was the reason his administration had decided not to renew the hydrography agreement signed with India during the former Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration.

“People would not want our seabed to be scanned, surveyed, mapped and all this done by others. So we decided not to renew the hydrographic agreement,” Muizzu said.

The information on the Maldives’ ocean resources should not be the property of any other country, the president said.

“Everything within this EEZ, within 974,000 square kilometres, is our property, is it not? We should know whatever is underneath… Scanning and mapping the depths of the Maldives’ ocean and it becomes their property while we pay for [access to] it; isn’t that ridiculous? We didn’t want to renew the agreement because it was made like this,” he said.

The decision was taken to protect the independence and sovereignty of the country for the sake of the people, the president said.

“In turn, our forces are expanding capacity and sourcing the equipment to do the scanning and mapping. The Ministry of Finance is now allocating the budget to the Ministry of Defence. We will do the work ourselves. We will not have to bring others,” said Muizzu reiterating his commitment to maintaining the Maldives’ independence.

“We will protect [the autonomy of] our oceans, airspace, seas, land; everything ourselves,” the President and Commander in Chief outlined.

The President’s Office, earlier on 14 December, said the administration had issued notice to India to cancel the hydrography agreement to explore and chart the Maldives’ oceans.

The agreement between the Maldives and India was signed on 8 June 2019 during the previous administration, and it established a special division and facilities for hydrography within the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

With parliamentary elections set to take place on 17 March, at the beginning of the second week of Ramadan, President Muizzu is—starting Tuesday—currently on a three-day visit to Thaa Atoll where, according to the President’s Office, he is slated to visit several islands. Muizzu, during the visit, will meet with residents, island councils, and Women’s Development Committees (WDC)s to discuss development and assess community needs, the President’s Office said.

President Muizzu’s ‘Week 14’ roadmap promises repeal any agreements signed by the previous administration with other countries that threaten the nation’s independence and sovereignty.