Maldivian Fishermen’s Association
Maldivian Fishermen’s Association (MFA) was formed in 8 April 1993 as a non-governmental organization aimed to develop the Maldivian fishing industry by educating, providing incentives, facilitating market options, gather and disseminate information about new technologies to the local fishers in Maldives, The association has close collaboration with international and regional fishery associations and intergovernmental bodies.
The Association works alongside fishermen to encourage growth and develop a sustainable fishing industry in Maldives. MFA gives priority to preserve indigenous knowledge, create awareness and understanding about fishery by hosting workshops within the country. Such workshops are designed to educate, help acquire skills, facilitate alternative methods like aqua/marine culture and introduce advancements in fisheries for fishermen.
The Association also participates in the governments projects and assists the policy makers by providing the on ground information from the local fishers through consultative mechanisms.
1. To empower local fishers to play a vital role in the development of Fisheries industry in Maldives by encouraging them to increase participation on policy and at technical levels.
2. Assist fishers to develop mutually beneficial relationship with the new management and educate them of the technological developments in the fisheries sector, as well as improving their social wellbeing.
To make every fisher folk as an important part of the development of the fisheries industry, educated with the best knowledge of technological and managerial skills.
Background & Context
Maldives is a traditional tuna fishing nation dating back centuries. Fisheries have been the mainstay of economy, providing employment, livelihood and dietary protein before the inception of tourism. Fishing still is an important economic activity carried throughout the islands. Fishery products contribute most of the export earnings to the country.
The fishery has undergone dramatic changes following the motorisation of the fishing vessels in the 1970s. Although the traditional fishing method of pole and line remained relatively unchanged, steady improvements in efficiency and size of the vessels enabled the fishermen to venture further fishing. Tuna catches have also increased due to modernisation, producing record catches of over 100,000 tons in 2006. However, catch and catch rates have declined to around 85,000 tons in the recent years.
Traditional ‘Maldive Fish’ (dried fish) is no longer the only exported fish product after improvements in post-harvest sector.
Local canning factories, processing and fresh-packing facilities, fish meal plants requires regular supplies of good quality fresh tuna. Keeping the harvest in fresh condition is extremely important from the time of catch to the processor. Value-addition of the catch is now extremely important for generating additional revenue and creating job opportunities.
Most fishermen are unaware about the importance of keeping the catch in fresh conditions onboard the vessel. Fishermen still use conventional method of depending on visual cues to locate fishing grounds. Schools are now located with the help of fish-aggregating devices deployed for the role of seabirds or dolphins. Education and training of fishermen are vital to help them to better understand and interpret these information provided by modern technology.