Bridging tradition and progress: The bold vision for the future of Maldives' fishing industry

During his speech at the celebration hosted for the Fishermens Day in the Maldives on 10th December 2023, President Mohamed Muizz stated that his administration would be looking to develop the fisheries industry by introducing the first fisheries training institute in the Maldives.

The Maldives has a rich heritage deeply intertwined with the bounties of the sea. From the days of our ancestors, the Maldivian way of life has been intimately connected to the art of fishing, a tradition passed down through generations. Anchored in the cultural fabric of the nation, fishing has not only sustained livelihoods but also shaped the identity of the Maldivian people. Fishing, as both a way of sustenance and cultural practice, has been a cornerstone of daily life. This age-old tradition has weathered the tides of time, evolving with modern techniques while preserving its essence.

Over time, the Maldives has embraced the opportunities of its marine wealth, expanding beyond traditional fishing to establish a thriving fish processing industry. With advancements in technology, the nation has become a hub for manufacturing various fish products, ranging from canned tuna to dried fish, that cater not only to local tastes but also find their way to international markets. While the fishing industry has expanded to international markets over the years, the harsh reality is that the fishermen in the country, even after decades of experience face difficulties when it comes to the industry.

While fishermen are known as the providers of the economy in the Maldives, as the Maldivian delicacies heavily depend on tuna, the industry has been stuck in a development phase for years, with each President promising a better future for fishermen and failing to do so. With this, the fishing industry has faced major struggles, especially when it comes to the limited access they have to international markets as well as the proper financing and technology not being prioritised for this industry. Additionally, some of the major challenges personally highlighted by the local fishermen in the Maldives include the challenges to sales and delays in payments as well as the difficulties that they face when it comes to acquiring ice and fuel.

Though each administration states that they would look into these issues, it appears that the fishing industry is slowly losing its spark in the Maldives, as this age-old tradition has become less and less popular among the youth. Though the Maldivian education sector has also broadened over the years, we have yet not seen a change in order to educate the youth and improve the fisheries sector through the education that is provided in the country. Education in this sector is surely going to improve the sector, turning it not only profitable but also garnering the interest of the youth and bringing in more financing from other countries.

During his speech at the celebration hosted for the Fishermens Day in the Maldives on 10th December 2023, President Muizz stated that his administration would be looking to develop the fisheries industry by introducing the first fisheries training institute in the Maldives. This institute, according to the President, is going to be developed in partnership with the Maldives National University (MNU) in order to modernise the fishing industry as well as raise the dignity and respect fishermen get in this society in order to develop the industry further. In order to encourage the youth to partake in this industry, Muizz also stated that there would be fisheries scholarships provided.

“For this purpose, we will set up a fishermen’s training centre, or Fisheries Training Institute. This will be the first time in the Maldives that a fisheries college will be established in collaboration with the Maldives National University. The administrative work is underway within fourteen weeks.” 
 President Muizz

Such an institute would surely improve the fisheries sector as introducing a course would bring vital information that would develop and modernise the sector, but would also make it more acceptable for the youth to go into this industry, knowing that it will bring them a successful future while keeping in touch with the age-old tradition in the Maldives.

Some other key-points that the President highlighted in regards to the trainings to be hosted for fishermen include:

  • The announcement that the second phase of the Japanese government's project to promote the green economy of fisheries will be launched later this month; Under the project, programs will be implemented to improve the quality of the fish.
  • The program will provide training on the precautions to be taken to store and store fish in the vessel from the time of harvest and will facilitate increased availability of sashimi-grade fish processing companies.
  • A series of trainings titled 'Marine Hatchery Skills Development Programme' will be launched in February to teach young people the skills required in the co-aquaculture sector, build hatcheries and revive marine life in the country.
  • Various programs to reduce the amount of fish wasted.
  • A special training program to have a rescue diver on every boat to reduce diving accidents.

Some of these points directly highlight and bring solutions to some of the biggest concerns that fishermen have been raising for years, such as the lack of ways to store fish which has been causing major issues as well as the generation of a lot of waste as well as the educational programmes that will bring in an abundance of knowledge to the fisheries industry.

For years, Maldivian fishermen have grappled with issues ranging from limited access to international markets to insufficient financing and technology. The struggles faced by these dedicated providers of the economy have been compounded by a lack of attention to their needs and aspirations. President Muizz's commitment to establishing a specialized training centre not only acknowledges these longstanding challenges but also offers a tangible solution to propel the industry forward.

In essence, these developments are not just a response to the immediate needs of the fisheries sector; they represent a transformative journey towards a more vibrant, sustainable, and respected fishing industry in the Maldives. The establishment of the Fisheries Training Institute, coupled with the implementation of various targeted programs, signifies a commitment to preserving the age-old fishing tradition while embracing the advancements needed for a prosperous future.

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