Last week, our Marine Biologist was invited to attend an important conservation event here in the Maldives; a stakeholder consultation on the National Plan of Action (NPOA) for shark conservation in the Maldives. Although Maldives has banned shark fishing completely since 2010, Shark Plan is required for Maldives due to a variety of local as well as international reasons.
Around the table there were ministry representatives and resort biologists, as well as the ex-shark fishermen. A draft version of the action plan for shark management was reviewed point-by-point and everyone had a chance to voice their opinion.
Current issues with the national shark ban were discussed; highlighting potential problems with long-line fishing vessels, shark bi-catch and potential smuggling of shark products.
An interesting part of this consultation was the opportunity to speak to the ex-shark fishermen and discuss the problems they are currently facing, actions taken by government and finally, ways to develop new livelihoods for ex-shark fishermen.
Lastly, a Shark Trust Fund was proposed in order to support alternative livelihoods for ex-shark fishermen and to aid shark focused conservation and research in the future.