Southern fishermen protest at Koodoo Fisheries Complex amid incapacity to purchase tuna

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

Gaafu Alif Atoll, Maldivs – Fishermen from five southern atolls have gathered at the Koodoo Fisheries Complex to protest the incapacity to buy fish amid high fishing season.

The protests come after Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO) decided to limit the purchase of fish to 5 tonnes at its southern centres over freezing capacity constraints as the Maldives is currently experiencing a high fishing season.

Fishermen from the give southernmost atolls of Laamu, Gaafu Alif, Gaafu Dhaal, Fuvahmulah City and Addu City gathered at Koodoo today to bring the issue to government attention.

Fishermen state that the government does not comprehend the challenges faced by fishermen.

Every government promises to develop the fisheries industry. They forget us once in power.

Protesting Fisherman

While MIFCO is attempting to bring in an additional boat to solve the issue, fishermen note that this is a common annual occurrence.

The hardwork that we do day and night [sailing for miles] is useless when they only purchase 5 tonnes.

The vessels at the south are catching 12 tonnes of fish daily, with some larger vessels catching as much as 25 to 60 tonnes per day. Fishermen complain of having to discard the remaining fish.

[The more time it takes to purchase the tuna] the lower quality will be for export.

Fishermen of the region are arranging for all pole and line fishers to gather at Koodoo to protest on Friday.

Protesting fishermen state that their calls to meet with the MIFCO management have not been answered.

Operations interrupted at Koodoo Fisheries Complex

Local news Adhadhu reports citing General Manager of MIFCO Koodoo operations Ahmed Zahir that the operations at the Koodoo facility are at a standstill due to the protest.

There are 26 fishing vessels queued at Koodoo Fisheries Complex … with some carrying as much as 40 tonnes of tuna.

MIFCO initially transferred its vessels from the northern districts to handle the surge in tuna supply, however, was forced to limit purchases as the boats reached maximum capacity. The southern region has a freezer capacity of 615 tonnes spread across 3 factories and 2 vessels.

The company has been criticized for a lack of planning ahead of the annual high tuna fishing season.

Meanwhile the Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan on Monday pledged to install ice storage facilities in 200 boats by the end of the incumbent administration’s term and said that the Dhidhdhoo facility will be operational in March 2023.

Police have been dispatched to Koodoo even as fishermen plan mega protests on Friday.