Almost 90% of the Maldives is covered by sea and the remaining 10% land is scattered over an area of 90,000 square kilometers, with the largest island (among the 1192 islands) being not more than eight Square Kilometers. Hence, marine transportation is the essence of Maldivian economy.
Maritime safety and the safeguarding the marine environment is one of the top most concerns of the Authority. To promote and enhance maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment, Maldives has enforced local legislations and ratified several international conventions.
A maritime regulation for vessels trading in the territorial waters of Maldives came into force on 1st January 2000, replacing the 1992 regulation. Under the regulation, all vessels trading within Maldives are subject to annual inspections and certification.
Maldives became a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the 31st May 1967. Today, Maldives has ratified various conventions
adopted by IMO, including the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM convention), and in fact, Maldives became the first Contracting Party of this convention, after depositing its instrument of ratification on 22 June 2005. At present, Maldives has three international ports, one at the capital Male (Male Commercial Harbor), one at North (Kulhuduffishi Regional Port) and one at South (Hithadhoo Regional Port). Speed boats and local boats (dhoani) are the main medium of internal transport.
Maldives became a member of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) on Port State Control on the 20th May 2000. At present, one in every four foreign ships that call to Maldivian ports are subject to port state control inspections.
Maldives dedication to Maritime Security is high; the newly developed ports are being considered as good sample models by the United States Coastguard.
A new organization named South Asia Regional Port Security Cooperative (SARPSCO) dedicated to Indian Ocean regional port and maritime security was initiated by the Maldives with the assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard during May 2008.