Over a thousand coral islands, grouped in atolls make up the tropical nation of the Republic of Maldives. Enticing tourists with the crystal clear waters, abundant and diverse marine life and golden sands, it is no wonder that the tourism industry is booming and contributing to almost a third of the national GDP.
Ranking second to tourism in terms of industry size is traditional fishing. The Maldives is well known for sustainable tuna fisheries that use a centuries-old practice, catching one fish at a time by pole-and-line and handline. However, it is likely that very few tourists think about the fishing method, the fishers or the economic importance of this industry when tucking into one of the delicious traditional tuna dishes found on the menus of many of the local hotels and resorts.
Under its Responsible Tourism Initiative, IPNLF is aiming to increase staff communication with guests about the values of one-by-one tuna fishing. Last month, Dr Shiham Adam and Ibrahim Nadheeh joined staff at the Soneva Jani resort in the Maldives to conduct training sessions to do just that. Let’s hear how they got on…
Shiham Adam, Director for Science & Maldives:
“It was nice calm day. We arrived by air-taxi to Iru Fushi resort and took a short ride to Soneva Jani, a relatively large island in Maldivian terms located on the eastern side of the Noonu Atoll. Our host Ms Eleanor Butler, resident Marine Biologist at the resort, accompanied us. To our delight the resort had an on-site trainer and the set up for our training session was ready to go. We started off the day with a group of 17 eager staff members; from the restaurant, front desk, reception and guest relations, telling them a little bit about IPNLF – who we are and what we do. But most importantly, about how they should start a conversation with the resort’s guests when talking about the local fisheries and their sustainability credentials. The most enjoyable part of this session was the role play, when we asked staff to engage in an imaginary conversation with dinner guests, encouraging them to order sustainably caught local fish. Overall, the staff were very receptive to the information we presented and by the end of the session they had a great understanding of the 'environmentally friendly' and 'socially responsible' aspects of the Maldivian one-by-one tuna fishery and what the Responsible Tourism Initiative was all about."
Ibrahim Nadheeh, Fisheries Research Officer, IPNLF:
“Well! We joined Soneva Jani staff to teach them about one-by-one tuna fishing and specifically about the importance of the Maldivian pole-and-line and handline fisheries to their communities - and how they can play a vital role in promoting these valuable fisheries. The staff were very engaged throughout the training sessions and shared their views and aspirations on the wonderful concept of one-by-one tuna fishing. I was inspired by the level of enthusiasm of the staff and their eagerness to share this new information about one-by-one tuna fisheries with their colleagues and guests”
Eleanor Butler, Resident Marine Biologist, Soneva Jani
“The training with IPNLF was a high quality and engaging session. Our hosts at Soneva Jani were provided a space to discuss and share openly their own experiences and stories of one-by one fishing in the Maldives, reflecting an excellent participation level. We were presented with a strong theoretical knowledge of pole-and-line fishing as a sustainable fishing practice by Shiham and Nadheeh, and learned how we can relate these experiences into a personal story to share with the guests. With the skills gained from this training, I am assured that we can further raise awareness with our guests about sustainable fishing practices, and encourage them to bring these values home with them."