The Maldives has always been a proud fishing nation and traditional one-by-one tuna fishing has held a very special place in Maldivian culture for hundreds of years. Every year, to celebrate Maldivians’ close affinity with the sea and its rich resources, we hold a Fishermen’s Day.
The festivities took place between 10 and 13 December on Ga. Gemanafushi Island, and the official opening ceremony, hosted by Dr Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture for the Maldives, was attended by chief guest His Excellency Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, President of the Maldives. We were also delighted to welcome Tanzanian Fisheries Minister, Mr. Hamad Raashid Mohamed, and three other senior delegates from the African country as part of the delegation.
For me, a real highlight of Fishermen’s Day 2016 was the Fish Filleting Competition, which was sponsored by IPNLF and World Wise Foods. Held on the harbour area, 26 women and six men took part in the fiercely contested competition. This fantastic event demonstrated the important role of women in the seafood industry. Globally, women make up approximately 50% of the fisheries harvest and post-capture workforce, but their huge contribution goes largely unrecognised. As part of IPNLF’s engagement with social issues, we are looking to improve our understanding of, and champion, the roles of women in the supply chain. With prestigious guests in the audience it was a prime opportunity to highlight these messages.
IPNLF’s Chairman John Burton was presented with the ‘Friends of Maldivian Fisheries Award’ by President Yameen, in recognition of his contribution to the development and promotion of the Maldivian fisheries sector.
This year’s Fishermen’s Day proceedings also saw President Yameen inaugurate a new ice plant constructed by the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO) with financial assistance from the Government of Maldives. A two-day National Forum on Fisheries was also held where more than 30 fishers and processing sector personnel attended and important industry issues were discussed.
As IPNLF’s Fisheries Research Officer, I see the direct value these fisheries bring to the coastal communities that depend upon them. These fisheries are more then environmentally sustainable, they are socially responsible, supporting the local economy, providing jobs for local people and improving the wellbeing of coastal communities. It was an honour to be able to champion these fisheries on Fisherman’s Day and celebrate with the fishers and supply chain workers themselves. I look forward to continuing my work out at sea on the one-by-one vessels in the year ahead, and to reflecting on these fisheries at the next Fishermen’s Day celebrations.