Local fish exporters have this week announced that they will be reducing the price paid to fisherman following a drop in global fish prices.
Horizon Fisheries, Koodoo Fisheries Maldives Ltd (KFML), Felivaru Fisheries and MIFCO have all reduced fish buying prices, telling local media that the price would increase along with global market prices.
Global fish prices are reported by local media to have dropped from US$2500 to US$1850, with Maldivian fishermen now receiving MVR18 per kg of fresh fish with ice, and MVR16 per kg without.
Ibrahim Manik of the Fisherman’s Union has suggested that leading government figures are amongst the country’s largest fish exporters.
“The senior officials of the PPM administration are fish exporters. Gasim’s Jumhooree Party and Yameen’s PPM’s [Progressive Party of Maldives] Zameer are fish exporters. As they make profits fishermen are facing a lot of damages.”
In the wake of the reduced prices, however, the government’s KFML announced it would be reducing ice and fuel charges in order to lessen the effects of the reduced fish prices.
The company reduced the selling price of diesel from MVR 17.25 to MVR 17, and the price of a ton of ice from MVR1050 to MVR 850, Sun Online revealed. The company also announced it would be reducing maintenance fees as well as attempting to penetrate new markets.
The newly appointed Minister of Fisheries Dr Mohamed Shainee told local television last week that he hoped the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives manifesto pledge to ensure all fishermen receive a basic income of MVR10,000 could be introduced next year.
“There is a lot of support for the policy from fishermen. This will incentivize the fishermen. They catch more than MVR 10,000 on good fishing days. But if the weather is bad or if the catch is low, there is a degree of despair. We are providing an incentive to overcome this despair to get ready for the next fishing season,” Shainee told Sun TV.
He revealed that the government would finance the scheme through the collection of MVR500 from each fisherman during the good months of fishing each year. It was also noted that the government planned to allocate MVR45 million from the MVR100 million allocated to subsidies fuel charges for fishing boats and hopes to designate a budget of MVR 90 million for the scheme.
While tourism is the Maldives’ largest economic sector, indirectly responsible for up to 70 percent of GDP and up to 90 percent of foreign exchange, fisheries is the country’s largest employer at over 40 percent.
The total fish catch has been declining each year since 2006 reaching 83.1 thousand metric tonnes in 2011, leading to fears about the impact of climate change and overfishing by better equipped fishing fleets on the borders of the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The European Union earlier this month declined to extend the duty-free status of imported fish from the Maldives, following the country’s failure to comply with international conventions concerning freedom of religion.
The Maldives exports 40 percent of its US$100 million fishing industry to the EU, its single largest export partner by value.
Before January 2014 those exports are duty-free under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program, a non-reciprocal trade agreement extended to developing countries.