The government of Maldives says it is introducing long line to compensate for the steady decline of fish catch during the past few years. It argues that the big fishing boats used in the Maldives are unfeasible for traditional pole and line fishing. Instead of keeping the boats idle and moored, it could take to the seas again through long line fishery, argues the government.
The government’s long line plan would make the fishermen employees in the fishing industry. Long line fishing would be dominated by a few wealthy and large companies. Even the large boats currently used for pole and line fishery would not be able to compete with much larger boats the big companies would use. If a transhipment port in Ihavandhippolhu could turn the fishermen into employees, the long line fishery could turn them into employees much easily. The fishery could also be dominated by foreign companies using their puppet or proxy Maldivian companies.
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.
Long line fishery would ruin the reputation of the Maldives as a country practicing environment-friendly fishery and tarnish its image abroad. The publicity gained through the country’s cabinet having a meeting underwater last year could all be gone just like bubbles released by a scuba diver.