Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Zaha Waheed has said that some local longline fishing businesses
regarded their fishermen with treatment akin to human trafficking, and that the Ministry has decided to
revoke the license for longline fishing.
Minister Zaha said this in a Parliament meeting she was partaking at the invitation of Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, while speaking about the decision to revoke the license for longline fishing.
Minister Zaha said that longline fishing was permitted up to 100 miles out from the exclusive economic zone of the country to fish bigeye tuna. Being the only type of fishing that allowed expatriate employees in the country, 90 percent of the fishermen on the 28 vessels registered in the business, owned by 5 companies were expatriate workers.
Minister Zaha noted that the Ministry received frequent complaints from fishermen regarding the issues within the longline fishing industry, including complaints regarding the fishing of yellowfin tuna instead of bigeye tuna by longline fishing.
Moreover, the Minister said that the representatives from the European Commission on Maritime Affairs and Fisheries also raised concerns regarding the unlawful ventures within the longline fishing industry, including the exchange of fish between vessels.
She stated that the Ministry has decided to not renew the licenses granted under the existing regulation, and that they are working to submit a new regulation to the Parliament to resume longline fishing.
Minister Zaha noted that if longline fishing is not monitored more effectively, it could destroy the reputation of the Maldives across Europe and other developed countries, affecting Maldivian pole and line fishing and hand line fishing as well.
European Maritime Affairs representatives had also noted this, saying that European markets are close to banning Maldivian fish and fish products due to the unlawful activities within the longline fishing industry.