The Maldives government this week responded to activists’ concerns that the country’s fisheries ministry is contemplating legalizing the killing of sharks in its waters, saying that’s in no way the case.
In a statement issued on Twitter, the Maldives Fishery Ministry said:
“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.”
The ministry goes on to acknowledge that its local fishermen had recently complained that “widespread depradation” had affected their industry, possibly by sharks.
“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 ministry added:
“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 biodegradable waste into the ocean. Such activities have been found to have a negative impact on the natural hunting behavior 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 emphasized that it doesn’t 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.”
Check out the ministry’s full statement below.
Media Statement on concerns around potential amendments to the shark ban in the Maldives pic.twitter.com/cTIEVVOVFv
— Min. of Fisheries, Marine Resources & Agriculture (@MoFMRAmv) April 20, 2021