A controversial plan to permit long-line fishing in the Maldives has shocked environmentalists and concerned citizens. While the government tries to justify the plan saying it will increase the fish catch and provide a higher income for the fishermen, the plan would have grave implications on the environment and the tuna fishery in the Maldives.
For centuries, successive generations of Maldivian fishermen have practiced the traditional pole and line fishery, which has been hailed as an environment-friendly method. While the Maldivian fishermen abandoned sails on their boats in favour of mechanization, and while the size of the fishing boats has increased dramatically over the past two decades, pole and line fishery has remained the hallmark feature of a unique fishing culture.
The government’s plan to introduce long line fishing to the Maldives could grossly change the landscape of tuna fishery in the Maldives. Long line fishery is criticized worldwide for the merciless death of species such as sharks, turtles and seabirds, all caught unwanted as by-catch. It is ironic that this method of fishery, which could lead to the death of hundreds of sharks in the Maldivian waters, is to be introduced just as the Maldives is about to impose a ban of shark fishery in the country.