New license will help stop illegal fishing

The ministry of fisheries and agriculture will introduce a new fishing licence aimed at reducing the amount of illegal fishing activity.

The new licenses are necessary to comply with European export legislation, said Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Ibrahim Didi.

Under this regulation, only vessels holding a license issued by that country’s fishing governing body may export fish to the EU.

“The new license is only required for those needing to export fish to Europe. Fishing for the local market does not require you to have this,” he said.

Illegal fishing methods, such as drag net fishing, was a major problem for the Maldives said State Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Hussain Rasheed.

“When the new regulation is passed, all exporters must have a paper trail of where their fish came from and who caught them,” he said.

“Without a license illegal fishing groups can’t sell, and once you take the market away they will stop,” predicted Rasheed.

Didi also said that it was important to stay ahead of the game by maintaining standards set by the EU.

“The EU will stop the export of fish into their borders if they feel countries are not complying with their regulations, as was the case with Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said.

Didi also addressed the issue of vessels operating with a expired safety certificates.

“The maximum fine a vessel can incur at the moment is Rf2000,” he said. “So there is a window for vessels to renew their certificates and operate under the regulations set by the ministry.”

Regulations set by the EU would only help local fishermen, he added, by preventing resources from being over-harvested.

The new regulation will take effect from 1 January 2010. In addition to the new license, all vessels will be required to have up to date health and safety certificates available from all atolls.