According to local news reports, the Maldives Minister for Fisheries, Zaha Waheed, has said that discussions are underway to legalize shark fishing in the Maldives. Speaking at the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Minister Waheed is reported to have said that the activity is ‘supposed to generate revenue for the state and is a profitable strategy’.
Waheed reportedly also said:
“Very few countries implement shark conservation. Since it is a means to generate profit we don’t have to limit ourselves. [We can] open [shark fishing] as a manage fishery for a certain duration and fish without endangering the shark population.”
Shark fishing v shark diving in the Maldives.
Shark fishing was banned in the Maldives in 2010 after a reported decline in shark populations. Since then, shark diving has become a valuable contributor to the Maldivian economy.
A 2019 study into the economic benefits of Maldives shark diving found that direct business revenue from shark divers was around US $14.4 million. Added to that, the revenue generated from associated employment and local businesses was estimated to be US $55 million.
By contrast, a 2009 study demonstrated that a single landed grey reef shark would be worth just $32 to the Maldivian economy.
Local residents have created a petition to oppose the shark fishing initiative, which is gaining thousands of signatures already and can be easily signed online.
For more on the plight of sharks worldwide try Sharks and Rays Facing Extinction.