Fisheries Minister: Discussions underway to permit shark fishing as a managed fishery

Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture Zaha Waheed at the Parliament. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed has said that discussions are underway to open up shark fishing as a managed fisheries sector. 

Speaking in the Parliament's Economic Committee today, the Minister said that her Ministry was formed for the development of the industry and that all relevant laws are formulated to ensure that all types of fishing are overseen and managed. 

"And so, fishing for sharks in the open seas, it is under discussion. How we can open this up," said Minister Zaha. 

She said that on a global perspective, only a few nations declare sharks as a protected species. These countries include Palau and Seychelles which have a very different situation when compared with the Maldives. 

Maldivian fishing industry is based on the hard work of common fishermen and so there was no reason not to reap the benefits of shark fishing as a managed fisheries sector, said Minister Zaha. 

"So, discussions are underway among us about this. We don't have to be the only ones limited on something that can have economic benefits," said Minister Zaha. 

She went on to specify that a managed fishery was when fishing would be allowed for a certain period of time without damaging the population of the species.

She also added that sharks posed a threat to all types of fishes due to the preying habits and that complaints were being received that the shark population was now increasing to a level threatening the population of other fish. 

This underwater photo shows a shark swimming in the Farekede area of Fuvahmulah City. (Photo/Farekede Divers)

"Discussions are underway because this can also be beneficial economically if carried out thoughtfully," said Minister Zaha.

The Maldives officially banned shark fishing in 2010. However, there have been some instances of illegal export of shark fins and meat.

Recent estimates by the James Cook University has put the economic benefits of sharks through tourist at USD 3,300 per shark every year. This is in stark contrast to the USD 32 entering the economy through shark fishing. 

However, there have been recent complaints of sharks preying on the catch of fishermen and complaints about the increase of the shark population.