Divers Threaten to Boycott Country if Shark Fishing Legalised
The Maldives' government announcement of discussions to legalise shark fishing for profit after an 11-year ban on the activity has resulted in international condemnation and an increasing backlash from the dive community threatening to boycott the country once lockdown is lifted.
Despite studies showing that shark-diving tourism brings in millions of dollars each year for the island nation, on 23 March, the Maldives' Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed, said that lifting the ban 'presents a profitable revenue-generation strategy for the state,' adding that 'very few countries implement shark conservation. Since it is a means to generate profit we don’t have to limit ourselves.'
The backlash has been swift, with divers responding to the announcement on Facebook that they would not visit the country for future holidays, or may cancel planned trips should the decision not be reversed. In an e-mail copied to DIVE, a dive club member planning a post-lockdown trip to the Maldives has written directly to the Maldives' Tourist Association, Public Relations Corporation, and Ministry of Fisheries (addresses below), to make their case clear:
'Our dive club hasn't been able to travel due to Covid and we planned to celebrate the return of foreign dive trips with a no-expenses-spared trip to the Maldives. Based on this news report, our club has just agreed to look into alternative destinations as we don't want to be seen to be supporting countries that promote the killing of marine species that are already under threat.
We all hope that the Maldives will continue its ban on shark fishing so that we can continue to view it as one of the world's best dive destinations.'
A Change.org petition has been started by a citizen of the Maldives, which as of Monday morning has reached almost 12,500 signatures. Divers and conservationists who would like to make their objections known more directly can write to: