Maldives fishermen protest against reintroducing long-line fishery

Joint boat protest by workers in the Maldives on Labour Day 2021 | Photo: Twitter

Malé, Maldives – Maldivian yellow fin tuna fishers staged protest yesterday and called on the government to not reintroduce long-line fishery which would have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of local fishermen destroy sustainable fishing.

The fishermen urged against long-line fishery stating that reintroduction will trap everything including sharks. They also requested the government to set the minimum price of yellowfin tuna at MVR 80.

Speaking at the joint boat protests for rights of workers on Labour Day 2021, the Vice President of Bodu Kanneli Masveringe Union (Yellowfin Tuna Fishermen’s Union) said that the fishermen and their families make a big sacrifice spending weeks away from families without even being able to make a phone call home. He urged the state to facilitate the fishermen to be given a just wage, and find a better future for the fishermen by holding open dialogue.

The Fisheries Ministry of Maldives has recently stated that there were internal discussions taking place to reinstate long-line fishery in the Maldives.

Currently, Maldives exclusively uses pole and line fishing, catching individual fish while EU and other rich countries use (FAD)s or factory-boats that sweep up everything in the ocean, leading to reduction of tuna population in the ocean.

The EU is the biggest harvester of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean. The Guardian reports that EU nations, specifically Spain and France have a fleet of 43 fishing vessels that use FADs to cast nets which catch a large quantity, including by-catch that often consists of young tuna that negatively affects the tuna population. In 2019, the EU is reported to have caught 70,000 tonnes of yellowfin tuna while the South Asian nations of Sri Lanka and Maldives caught 44,000 respectively.