Fisheries research in the Maldives: an update

Exciting update from the Maldives team on the ongoing one-by-one tuna fisheries research progress.
Kelsey Miller sampling the pole-and-line tuna catch data on board a dhoni. © IPNLF

IPNLF’s project work to support and develop socially and environmentally responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries is underpinned by a strong scientific foundation. To bolster the collection of reliable, all-encompassing data on pole-and-line fisheries in the Maldives, the IPNLF team has been working in collaboration with the Marine Research Centre (MRC) of the Maldives to conduct surveys of bycatch in the pole-and-line fishery.

The project commenced in September 2014 under the guidance of Dr. Shiham Adam, IPNLF Director for Science and the Maldives, and thanks to the hard work of Kelsey Miller, IPNLF’s Fisheries Science Research Officer, is well underway. To date, the research team has participated in fishing trips on 17 different fishing vessels recording data on 161 pole-and-line fishing events and 99 baitfish fishing events, contributing to a staggering 15,800 data points. Specifically, the survey records:

  • Length, weight and total mass of tuna caught by each fishing event, identified as fishing activities separated by 10 minutes.
  • Duration of fishing events and number of fishers
  • Data on bait fishing activities (time spent, gear used, species and length, weight and total mass of baitfish caught)
  • Species, length and weight of any potential bycatch
  • ETP interactions
  • Fuel used

Currently the research trips are coordinated by Mohammed Muththalib, IPNLF’s Country Coordinator for the Maldives, and conducted by Ibrahim Nadheeh, IPNLF’s Data Acquisition Officer, with support from the MRC staff and of course the pole-and-line fishers. Fisher participation is fundamental to this particular research and their generous contribution and support is greatly appreciated.

After each fishing trip, the data is sorted and recorded, and a report is prepared by the Data Acquisition Officer and sent to Kelsey Miller, currently based in Oregon, USA. This data contributes towards IPNLF’s technical reports to help improve the usage of baitfish and fuel, and provides the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) with scientific research from the Maldives. It also helps to improve the understanding of Indian Ocean skipjack and yellowfin tuna stocks, ultimately supporting key management decisions.