Alakrana fishing vessel. (Photo: Echebastar)
Potentail IUU fishing operators in Maldivian waters get serious warnings
Monday, October 09, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A total of 432 non-Maldivian vessels performing unauthorised activities inside the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without the required permits or licenses were identified through international cooperation.
The assessment, commissioned by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MoFA), was conducted based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) data collected through satellite service providers.
The two-year study identified a total of 432 fishing vessels to be engaging in potential illegal fishing activities and 542 unathorised drifting buoys deployed or drifting through Maldivian waters.
One of the most concerning findings of the assessment was the violation of the fishing vessel Alakrama, which is part of the Echebaster Fleet SLU, as the fleet is currently in the process of seeking Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for its Indian Ocean purse-seine skipjack fishery.
The ministry explains that although the vessel was authorised to operate in the area of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, there is evidence suggesting that it was engaged in illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities in Maldives. In this regard, it clarifies that the Maldivian Government does not grant fishing permits to foreign ships, and so sucha a vessel was not allowed to operate in its waters or in hold of a permit to be inside its EEZ.
After the assessment, MoFA sent a letter requesting an official investigation into the potential IUU infringement. Now it is awaiting for a response from the respective flag state authorities.
The study shows the high level illegal fishing has in the Indian Ocean and the Ministry expects that the analysis also serves as a stern warning to all operators looking to exploit Maldivian resources, without the appropriate permissions, that Maldives will not tolerate IUU violations.
Fishing in the Maldives adhere to ‘no net’ and ‘caught-one-by-one’ policies, meaning that all Maldivian tuna is caught hook and line.