Fishing in Maldives

Feb 17, 2012   //   by admin   //   Maldives  //  No Comments

Traditionally fishery is the main occupation and major livelihood of the Maldivians. It is also the second largest industry in the Maldives. The main methods of fishing are pole and line for skipjack tuna. Surface trolling is done for little tuna, frigate mackerel, wahoo and jacks. The main composition of fish catch is skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), representing 50-75% of the total catch.

A fisherman at Gulhi island – bringing fish home. The second most important fish caught is the yellowfin tuna (Thunus albacaraes). The main fish products exported are; frozen fish, canned fish, dried fish and salted dry fish. The traditional fishing vessel is a sailing dhoni not about less than 15 feet long. Thatch sail were also used in the early days of fishing. Clothe sails and rowing is common in traditional fishing practice. The Maldivan fishery is famous in the world for its dolphin friendliness.

The mechanisation of fishing vessels revolutionised the Maldivian fishing industry. It enabled the fisherman to travel much farther distances, than were possible when sailed boats were in use. It meant that the direction and speed of the wind were no longer determinants of the distances travelled by fishermen in search of fish. Establishment of cold storage facilities was another important landmark in the development of the fisheries industry. In 1997 average number of mechanised fishing (dhonis) vessels engaged in fishing were 1,328. Catches of tuna and other tuna like species tripled from 30,000 metric tons to 100,000 metric tons in 1994. The total catch of fish increased to 107,358.17 metric tons. Haa Alif, Raa and Baa, Lhaviyani, Kaafu, Thaa, Laamu and Gaafu are the principle fishing atolls representing about 75% of total fish landings.

In the past Maldives exported tuna primarily in the dried and smoked form called hiki kandumas or ‘Maldive Fish’ to Sri Lanka. In 1971 due to reduction in purchase of ‘Maldive Fish’ there was a strong need for diversification of the product and market. Maldives also exported other form of fish products to Japan and Thailand. In 1982 the export of fish was severely affected because of the drop in negotiated export prices caused by world recession and decline of demand for the Japanese companies which had been regularly buying fish from Malé.

However, the government of the Maldives stepped in to take over the collection and canning facilities of Japanese company, which had withdrawn from the country. Authorities ensured that the procurement prices paid to the fishermen were maintained. Later better prices were negotiated with some buyers in Thailand and other countries.

The government of Maldives implements various projects to diversify the fish projects and get new markets. Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources is the government authority concerning the implementation of projects and studying the various impacts of new developments in this sector. During 1980s Fisheries Ministry started a project to anchor mooring buoys in various parts of the country to attract tuna. Fishermen’s Day is also marked to emphasise the importance of fishing to the Maldivian economy and the livelihood of Maldivians.

The Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Ltd. is a government owned company which carries out business in the field of fishery. MIFCO buys fresh tuna from local fishermen. They have collector vessels deployed in fishing atolls. It also owns a fish-canning factory at Felivaru in Lhaviyani Atoll. MIFCO operates a boatyard in Alifushi, where larger fishing vessels are now built and sold to the people on hire purchase basis. Fishery in the Maldives shows a promising future. The industry needs modernisation and new technology to keep pace with the global economic development.

article from thisisMaldives

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