The operators of a Safari boat whose staff and visitors were pictured with endangered shark species have assured that they pay special attention to environmental conservation, denying that the images showed shark fishing.
Furamaana Travels – which operates the Bolero Safari boat – told Minivan News that several endangered and protected species including sharks and sting rays were caught before being released back into the ocean after removing the lines and hooks.
“How would they know what they caught before they fish it out of the water? As soon as it was discovered that endangered species were caught, the safari crew removed the hooks and line. They were released into the sea, unharmed”, said a Furamaana staff member.
Photos of a night-fishing trip on the boat have prompted outrage, as they appeared to show tourists and staff members holding several species of live shark – which are protected under Article 4 (a) of the Environment Protection Act.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Director General Ibrahim Naeem told Minivan News that it is currently contacting the relevant parties, including Furamaana Travels, to clarify information about the matter.
“We will only be able to take any steps after all facts surrounding the matter has been clarified. We will take action depending on the severity of the offence”, Naeem stated.
Ali Rilwan, Executive Director of local environmental NGO Bluepeace stated that the NGO does not feel the incident to be an issue “from a conservation point of view” as the caught animals were released back into the ocean.
“Safaris in Maldives operate in a very ethically correct manner, once caught they cannot just cut the line and release it, they have to remove the line and hook before doing so. Taking a photo before the release is not an issue, I do not see this in a negative light”, said Rilwan.
Local NGOs last month condemned images showing a turtle being cut in half for its eggs and meat, prompting the fisheries ministry to commence work on introducing stricter fines – up to MVR10 million (US$650,000) for illegal capture of turtles and tortoises.
Meanwhile, a ceremony was held today at EPA Agency to award the fishermen of Madduvari in Meemu Atoll for rescuing a stranded whale-shark from a shallow lagoon near Maduvvari Island.
Related to this story