Maldives Government Statement Confirming No Lifting of Shark Fishing Ban

maldives shark fishing statement title

The Maldives Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture has issued a statement saying that it will not legalise shark fishing in Maldivian waters by lifting the ban on shark fishing that has been in place since 2010.

The statement has been issued in response to an international outcry following the news that 'discussions' were underway to rescind the shark-fishing ban. Conservation group Shark Guardian arranged a meeting with Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed, who was quoted by the Maldivian Press as suggesting that the moratorium may be lifted. During the meeting with Shark Guardian, Minister Waheed said that she had been referring to sharks caught as bycatch from a proposed new tuna fishery, not an outright legalisation of shark fishing.

 

The statement in full reads:

Following serious concerns regarding the status of shark stocks in Maldivian waters, as well as the Indian Ocean in general, the Maldives adopted the Precautionary Approach and imposed a ban on shark fishing within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2010. Maldives was the first Indian Ocean country to declare the whole of its EEZ as a shark sanctuary. The ban was imposed under the former Fisheries Act of the Maldives (Act no. 5/87) followed by the closure of a minor shark fishery to ensure that shark species are protected and conserved. More than 200 fishermen that were involved in the fishery at the time were compensated through a government-led gear buy-back scheme with the subsequent establishment of a trust fund to assist those fishermen to move into alternative livelihood opportunities. The trust fund established received a lukewarm response from the various sectors that had pledged support for fishers following the ban. The complete ban has since been reinforced with the recent changes to the fisheries regulatory framework following the enactment of the new Fisheries Act of the Maldives (Act no. 14/2019), with the extension of the ban to include a ban on retention of sharks for all Maldivian fishing vessels irrespective of fishing area.

It has come to our attention that there are concerns regarding recent statements made by the Minister of Fisheries. Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed in the Committee on Economic Affairs of the Peoples Majlis. The Ministry wishes to clarify that her statement relating to amendments to the ban was made in relation to discussions on re-instating longline fishery targeting bigeye tuna and the discussions that had taken place internally at a technical level within the Ministry concerning the potential bycatch of sharks in the longline fishery, including management of this bycatch. In no way were these discussions focused on lifting the ban on shark fishery.

Following 10 years of a complete ban on catching of sharks, fishers operating in internal waters targeting reef-based species and handline yellowfin tuna fishers have raised complaints that their respective fisheries and income have been seriously affected by widespread depredation in recent years. In order to understand these impacts, the Maldives Marine Research Institute through various research initiatives have been conducting scientific surveys to assess shark populations and the scale of shark depredation in other fisheries. Preliminary results of these surveys do not indicate that the shark populations have significantly increased or fully recovered since the inception of the ban.

The perceived increase in shark populations and the frequency of depredation may be linked to easier access to food sources due to regular shark feeding practices as well as the practice of disposing bio-degradable waste into the ocean. Such activities have been found to have a negative impact on the natural hunting behaviour of sharks. The Ministry urges the public, divers and the tourism industry to refrain from feeding or chumming as a means to attract sharks.

The Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture does not intend to permit a targeted shark fishery in the Maldives. The Ministry understands the concerns raised by fishers over impacts to their livelihood and welcomes open dialogue with all stakeholders on how best to protect our shared natural resources, while maintaining sustainable traditional means of livelihoods.

The Maldives is proud to have always been exemplary in its efforts in ocean management. We are one of the few nations in the world that has a strict policy on the prohibition of all forms of net fishing, and we continue to maintain the one-by-one method of fishing, making our tuna fisheries one of the most sustainable in the world. The Ministry recognizes the important role that sharks play in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems, and we assure the public that we remain committed to ensuring that our marine resources are utilised sustainably and managed responsibly.

The practice of disposing biodegradable waste into the ocean and other such activities have been found to have a negative impact on the natural hunting behaviour of sharks. The Ministry urged the public, divers and the tourism industry to refrain from feeding or chumming as a means to attract sharks. Meanwhile, the public has also raised concerns about the Tourism Ministry regulation allowing luxury resorts to discard disposable waste into the ocean, which has been exploited with all types of waste ending up in the Maldives sea.

The Fisheries Ministry states that the Maldives is proud to have always been exemplary in its efforts in ocean management, citing the one-by-one method of fishing practised in the Maldives, which makes the country’s tuna fisheries one of the most sustainable in the world.

The Ministry recognizes the important role that sharks play in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems, and pledged that they remain committed to ensuring that the island nation’s marine resources are utilised sustainably and managed responsibly.

moving ebook gif 2

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND GET THREE FREE EBOOKS!
Download our FREE gift Around the World in 80 Wrecks - a 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks - plus Wonders of the Pacific and readers' favourite Scuba Stories

maldives govt. shark fishing statement

uk print digital sub intl print digital sub digital onlysub

 

 

mulipack
 
THREE AMAZING DIVE eBOOKS - FREE

Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection f real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE spring 21 large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar philippines sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena 2020 Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize sidebar banner south africa

DIVE Partners

sidebar banner egypt new ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below


PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...