Maldives considering legalizing shark fishing

The Maldives government is in discussions to legalize shark fishing in a bid to boost their struggling economy. The Maldives has become a well-known hope spot for sharks after implementing a shark fishing ban in 2010 and is a premier shark diving destination. The latest move to consider legalizing shark fishing in the Maldives has understandably shocked marine conservationists and divers around the world.

Why is the Maldives considering legalizing shark fishing?

According to local news reports, the Maldives Minister for Fisheries, Zaha Waheed, has said that discussions are underway to legalize shark fishing. Speaking at the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Minister Waheed is reported to have said that shark fishing is ‘supposed to generate revenue for the state and is a profitable strategy’. "Very few countries implement shark conservation. Since it is a means to generate profit we do not have to limit ourselves. [We can] open [shark fishing] as a manage fishery for a certain duration and fish without endangering the shark population." – Zaha Waheed, Maldives Minister for Fisheries. It has long been known that sharks are worth more alive than dead and legalizing shark fishing in the Maldives does not make economic sense. A 2019 study into the economic benefits of shark diving in the Maldives reported 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. In contrast, a 2009 study demonstrated that a single grey reef shark is worth only $32 to the Maldives economy as landed catch. By upholding the Maldives shark fishing ban, shark tourism will continue to thrive now and in the future. Importantly, this will protect a vital and sustainable income source for many Maldivian communities.

Healthy oceans need sharks.

Sharks are crucial for helping to maintain the delicately balanced ecosystems that keep our oceans healthy. They manage prey populations, act as clean-up crew and ensure species diversity in the oceans. The removal of these vital predators could have far-reaching and devastating impacts that would affect us all. With more than 300 species of sharks and rays threatened with extinction, and the urgent global climate crisis, shark populations need protected waters now more so than ever.

How can you help?

You can sign a petition to oppose the shark fishing initiative easily online and add your voice to the thousands of people who have already signed. Source: image©istock/Velvetfish