Influential Maldives Stakeholders Condemn Proposed Lifting of Fishing Ban
A group of 'Concerned Local Stakeholders' in the Maldives has signed a joint statement to government ministers demanding that they reconsider the planned lifting of the Maldives' 11-year old ban on shark fishing in the island nation's waters.
The group includes not conservation organisations and NGOs and includes some of the Maldives top dive centres and some of the largest and most influential tourist operators in the country:
On 23 March 2021, responding to questions from Members of the Parliament at the Economic Affairs Committee of the People's Majlis, the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Research and Agriculture, stated that they were considering the option to lift the Maldives’ 11-year-old shark fishery ban. The Ministry stated that they see "no reason not to" lift the ban to reap benefits from fishing this economic resource.
With the Maldives having declared a climate emergency, it is inconsistent for the country to undermine its position as a safe haven and hope-spot for sharks which play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Maldives’ marine environment.
Therefore, we the undersigned Concerned Stakeholders urge the State Authorities not to lift the shark fishing and trade bans that have been in place for over a decade.
The undersigned Concerned Stakeholders also call upon the State Authorities to uphold the rule of law to enforce the legal protections for sharks, to ensure accountability and to conduct timely and transparent investigations on the following cases:
a) The attempted illegal export of 429 kg of shark fins seized by the Maldives Customs Service on 3 January 2021 at Velana International Airport;
b) The vessel that was apprehended by Maldives Police Service carrying a large quantity of sharks and shark products in South Ari Atoll on 23 March 2021; and
c) The illegal drum fishing line discovered by a tourist at the popular dive site, Fish Head in North Ari Atoll with several hooked sharks on 24 March 2021.
We urge State authorities to give serious consideration to the fragility of the balance of nature in the Maldives today. As a nation of 99 per cent water and 1 per cent land, the health of the ocean is vital for its survival. At a time where we are grappling with multiple crises; the Covid-19 pandemic, economic crisis; to name but a few, the climate crisis and ecological crises are threat multipliers. Safeguarding the sharks is essential for Maldivians to be able to survive and thrive.