The government’s plan to introduce long line fishing to the Maldives could grossly change the landscape of tuna fishery in the Maldives. Long line fishery is criticized worldwide for the merciless death of species such as sharks, turtles and seabirds, all caught unwanted as by-catch. It is ironic that this method of fishery, which could lead to the death of hundreds of sharks in the Maldivian waters, is to be introduced just as the Maldives is about to impose a ban of shark fishery in the country.
Pelagic long line fishery for tuna has its own environmental side-effects, especially in terms of unwanted catch of sharks and turtles.
For centuries, successive generations of Maldivian fishermen have practiced the traditional pole and line fishery, which has been hailed as an environment-friendly method. While the Maldivian fishermen abandoned sails on their boats in favour of mechanization, and while the size of the fishing boats has increased dramatically over the past two decades, pole and line fishery has remained the hallmark feature of a unique fishing culture.
The environment-friendly label that the Maldivian exporters have so proudly displayed on their fish products would lose its status as the long line becomes a widespread fishing method in the country. The fears Bluepeace has on how long line fishery could destroy the reputation of Maldives seem to be shared by other environmental organisations. Bite Back, a marine conservation group from UK, has told Minivan News that there is a real possibility of a caught through long line.