Fisheries Minister explains government's plans to increase capacity to purchase fish

Fisheries Minister Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan responds to questions at the Parliament on September 27, 2021. (Photo/People's Majilis)

Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan on Monday revealed how the government intends to permanently solve the issue of not being unable to weigh fishermen's catch. 

During the Parliament's session, Parliamentarian for Madaveli constituency MP Hussain Firushan noted that earlier this year, the minister had mentioned a permanent solution to freezing fish in order to increase the capacity of the fish factories. He went on to inquire about that solution.

Responding to the question, the minister revealed that there are some things that can be done in the short-term and long-term to solve the issues faced in weighing fish during the periods when fishing is unusually good in Maldives. 

He further said that issues are faced usually during a period between October and April when fishing is unusually good. He added that for the remainder of the year, there are no issues with weighing and buying fish. 

Moreover, he noted that fish was not bought as there aren't enough facilities. He added that there has not been enough show-based investment made till now, and has not acquired enough boats to accommodate that kind of surge in the amount of fish caught. 

Minister Dr Hussain did note that this was not a new issue in Maldives. As a result of it all, long periods go by without being able to buy the fresh catch. It ultimately goes bad by the time it is weighed and bought. 

Accepting that this was an issue that needed addressing, he said that no government has made a substantial investment to resolve it permanently. 

Further to this, he highlighted that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration was the first to work on a long-term solution. He also said that once the government's plan was enforced, this would no longer be an issue. 

"With the Saudi development fund, an additionl four thousand tonnes in Kooddoo, a thousand tonnes in Gdh. Thinadhoo, developing 500-tonne cold storage in a facility in M. Mulah, buildng cold storage of four tonnes from the Indian EXIM bank's aid will bring a permanent solution to it."

However, the minister did not specify when the whole project will conclude. 

An emergency motion was submitted by the PPM deputy leader calling on the government to lift controls on the quantity of fish purchased from fishermen and ensure a fair price for their catch.

Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam’s motion was accepted for debate with a vote of 25-4. One parliamentarian abstained.

Maldives is currently experiencing a good spell of fishing in northern and southern regions, leading to increased pressure on Kooddoo and Maandhoo, and forcing Maandhoo to limit its purchases.

Some fishing boats have had to dump tons of fish back into the ocean, unable to sell their catch.