The Maldives is made up of 99% sea, so it’s no surprise that fishing plays an important role in the island nation with around 30% of the population working in the fishing industry and tuna fishing in particular providing a major source of income as the nation’s primary export.
Over 1,200 species of fish can be found in the oceans of the Maldives, however increasing sea temperatures are negatively affecting worldwide fish stock populations. It has therefore become evident that there is a need for more environmentally-friendly and socially-sustainable fishing methods to be used, such as Pole-and-Line, which has become certified by the Marine Stewardship Council environmental sustainable standard.
The method of Pole-and-Line fishing has long-been practiced in the Maldives for hundreds of years and this highly selective form of fishing allows fishermen to catch tuna one-by-one, ensuring the levels of unwanted catch (or bycatch) such as dolphins, sharks and turtles are exceedingly low compared to other large-scale industrial methods such as trawl (or net) fishing. Fishermen use live bait to attract the tuna and barbless hooks on the end of their poles to reel each tuna in, before the tuna is stored in ice within the hold of the boat.
Pole-and-Line fisheries in the Maldives are also more fuel-efficient than net fisheries, reducing their contribution to greenhouse emissions which are also known to be affecting climate change. One of the other key components of seafood sustainability, is the traceability of a fishery product and in the Maldives there is clear transparency throughout the supply chain from harvest to the shop shelf.
Pole-and-Line fishing is an important component of the Maldivian culture and the Government of Maldives has collaboratively worked with key partners such as the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) to build a sustainable and strong Pole-and-Line fishing industry in the Maldives, leading to significant success in the fisheries of the Maldives.
Many of the resorts in the Maldives, also provide guests with the chance to try their hand at the line fishing technique with excursions offering the opportunity to spend a day with local fishermen to learn how to master the Maldivian line fishing technique.
Dr Shiham Adam, Director for Science and the Maldives at the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) said, “Pole-and-line fishing is one of the most environmentally and socially responsbile methods of tuna fishing and IPNLF is proud to be working in the Maldives, which is largely believed to be the home of Pole-and-line fishing, having done so since our inception in 2012.”
Image 1: Fishermen using the Pole-and-Line fishing method from the back of a dhoni boat. Image courtesy of International Pole and Line Foundation
Image 2: Pole-and-Line fishing in the Maldives. Image courtesy of International Pole and Line Foundation
Image 3: Silhouette of a dhoni boat in the Maldives. Image courtesy of International Pole and Line Foundation
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