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World - Maldives announces plans to lift ban on shark fishing after 11 years

The Maldives’ government has announced plans to discuss the legalisation of shark fishing for profit after an 11-year ban.

Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed, spoke at the People’s Majlis (the Maldivian Parliament) Committee on Economic Affairs, saying that lifting the ban ‘presents a profitable revenue-generation strategy for the state.’

Waheed is reported to have said: “Very few countries implement shark conservation. Since it is a means to generate profit we don’t have to limit ourselves. [We can] open [shark fishing] as a manage fishery for a certain duration and fish without endangering the shark population.”

She said that a managed fishery was when fishing would be allowed for a certain period of time without damaging the population of the species. She also highlighted that sharks posed a threat to all types of fish due to the preying habits and that complaints were being received that the shark population was now increasing to a level threatening the population of other fish.

Shark fishing was completely banned in the Maldives in 2010, following a reported decline in shark populations, which have become increasingly valuable as a tourist attraction.

There has been a great deal of backlash from international conservationists, divers and residents of the Maldives. Additionally, 106 international and local stakeholders, including resorts and NGOs, have released a statement urging the authorities not to lift the shark fishery ban. The statement asked authorities to focus on the fragility of the current balance of nature in the Maldives, and reminded that as a nation of 99% water and 1% land, the health of the ocean is vital for its survival.

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