The observations of experts as to the detrimental nature of certain recreational activities like underwater walking have led to the authorities considering whether or not to issue bans in order to protect the environment.
Mauritius is famous for its ‘Paradise Island’ reputation that it has earned itself over the years with its golden beaches and blue oceans as well as other landscape beauties. It has attracted tourists in huge numbers who travel to the island to enjoy the luxuries including the recreational activities like skiing, scuba diving, and underwater walking. However, everything comes with a price: certain activities in the Mauritian lagoons have proved to be detrimental to the marine flora and fauna. As a consequence, the authorities are currently reviewing the impact of activities like underwater walking and helmet diving, and whether these should be banned altogether.
The director of the Tourism Authority, Niven Muneesamy, stated that experts have observed that walking underwater has caused much damage to the populations of corals, and has, ultimately, affected the marine ecosystems. He also added that some of those who practise the activity do not respect the guidelines.
Should walks underwater thus be stopped? This would also entail no more issuing permits for such practices. The State might soon opt for these options, as per the recommendations of the Master Plan for the Zoning and Management of Lagoon.
Unsurprisingly, the recommendations have displeased many: for instance, Dev Jugoo, who has been providing the service since 2003 at Belle-Mare’s Aqua Sea, argued that the authorities cannot put an end to underwater walking only while other activities like fishing whereby anchors are dropped at sea further contributing to damaging the marine ecosystem can still carry on. But, he also agreed that some of the clients do actually damage the corals. The owner of Mauritian Attractions at Grand-Baie, Uri Cypin, shares the same opinion as Dev Jugoo that walking underwater cannot just be abruptly banned.