Opposition voices grave concern over foreign fishing boats

Deputy leaders of opposition two parties Shaheed and Shiyam raised concerns over allowing foreign boats to fish in Maldivian waters. (Photo/File/Sun)

The opposition has voiced concern over plans to allow boats from other countries to enter into Maldivian waters to purchase fish from Maldivian fishermen.

These concerns were raised with the Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed during her questioning in the parliament's Economic Affairs Committee meeting.

The deputy leader of the opposition party Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and the Naifaru MP Mr. Ahmed Shiyam said that if foreign boats were allowed into Maldivian waters, there were fears of their methods exhausting Maldivian marine resources.

"I have fears that these 125-tonne boats and trawlers would cast nets every time they enter into our seas." MP Shiyam said. He also said that there was no way of tracking boats that enter the Maldivian waters even now. 

There were also concerns raised by the deputy leader of opposition party People's National Congress and Maavah MP Mohamed Saeed, who questioned if there was a real concern regarding foreign boats illegally fishing and if there was a way of finding out if the boats illegally fished from Maldivian waters.

Minister Zaha stated in her answers that if the plan was approved, then she would take into consideration the concerns of the opposition members when making the regulations for the policy. 

The government has submitted five resolutionss regarding fishing to the parliament within this month. Majority MPs have stated that this was done so to hear the concerns and ideas of opposition MPs.

One of these resolutions included a resolution to stop foreign boats from fishing in Maldivian waters. The Fisheries Ministry earlier this month stopped issuing licenses for foreign boats to fish in Maldivian waters as well. Minister Zaha stated that the country got an income of MVR 310 million from foreign boats fishing in the country, while the Ministry earned around MVR 1.9 million by issuing licenses. 

Five resolutions submitted to parliament regarding fishing:

1) Resolution to stop mass net fishing and trawling in the Indian Ocean by Kanditheemu MP Abdullah Shaheem Abdul Hakeem.

2) Resolution on allowing foreign boats to buy fish from Maldivian fishermen by Dhuvaafaru MP Ismail Ahmed.

3) Resolution to highlight areas where Maldivian boats fish and establish offshore platforms by Mid-Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed.

4) Resolution to stop foreign boats from fishing in Maldivian waters by Hoarafushi MP Ahmed Saleem.

5) Resolution to establish neighborhood fish factory in collaboration with the residents and island councils by Thoddoo MP Hassan Shiyan.