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Maldives considers reinstating commercial shark fishery

Sharks have been protected in the Maldives for more than a decade, and their population is steadily recovering. Though unfortunately this safe haven may soon cease to exist. All because local authorities are considering the possibility of reintroducing commercial shark fishing. People involved in diving and lovers of these beautiful, endangered predators certainly do not
Published: April 1, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:16
Maldives considers reinstating commercial shark fishery

Sharks have been protected in the Maldives for more than a decade, and their population is steadily recovering. Though unfortunately this safe haven may soon cease to exist. All because local authorities are considering the possibility of reintroducing commercial shark fishing.

People involved in diving and lovers of these beautiful, endangered predators certainly do not want to allow this to happen. That is why signatures are being collected on a petition against the reintroduction of commercial shark fishing. The aim is to collect 10 000 signatures. This will undoubtedly be a clear expression of opposition and a strong voice that the organisers of the action will present to the Ministry of Fisheries Maldives.

Amendment of the law

The Maldives government has announced that discussions are underway to legalise commercial shark fishing. According to local news reports, the Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed, is pushing for the law change. She stated that lifting the ban “presents a cost-effective strategy to generate revenue”.

Speaking at the Economic Committee of the Maldives Parliament, Waheed was reported to have said:

Very few countries are implementing shark protection. Because it is a way to generate profit, we do not have to limit ourselves. We can allow shark fishing under certain conditions and fish for a certain period of time without harming the shark population.

In a world where over 100,000,000 sharks are killed every year, ensuring the safety of one of the last healthy populations is critical. Action must be taken now as there is no more time to waste. Speak up and help urge authorities in the Maldives to keep the promise they once made to protect marine life.

How much is a shark worth?

Shark fishing was completely banned in the Maldives in 2010. The reason was a decline in the shark population, which had become extremely valuable as a tourist attraction. A 2009 study by researchers at James Cook University clearly highlighted the difference in value of sharks to different industries. A single reef shark was worth US$3300 to the tourism industry in the Maldives. In contrast, the same shark was worth just US$32 as a commercial catch.

A 2019 study found that the revenue generated by divers in the Maldives is US$14.4 million. Although this figure rises to as much as US$51.4 million if local businesses related to the wider dive tourism, catering etc. are included in the calculation. Of this sum, as much as USD 7.2 million was paid to the budget in taxes.

severed shark fins
In January 2021, customs officials in the Maldives seized twenty-one boxes filled with shark fins. The total weight of the seized contraband was as much as 429 kg. The sharks were caught in Maldivian territorial waters. Moreover, social media users pointed to corrupt officials as allegedly responsible for the practice. The value of the seized goods was approximately USD 170,000.

The petition can be found under link. Over 8150 people have signed it so far.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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