It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the second IPNLF members newsletter for our IPNLF members in the Maldives. We like to keep you informed about our work in the Indian Ocean region, as well as initiatives we’re working on and progress being made on various fronts.

We are excited to dive into this month’s topics with you

  • Joanna Toole Ghost Gear Solutions award & end of this project and future goals
  • Kudahuvadhoo activities
  • Livebait work with Maldives National University
  • The Handline Yellowfin Tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to connect with us.
Kind regards and on behalf of the whole IPNLF Maldives team,

Dr M. Shiham Adam

IPNLF Director for Science and IPNLF Maldives

In November 2019, with the assistance of World Animal Protection, the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) partnered with Olive Ridley Project to implement a pilot project in the Maldives with the aim of incentivising the removal of ghost nets from the ocean by one-by-one tuna fishers. The island of Ga. Gemanafushi was chosen as the concept island and 12 tuna fishing vessels took part to implement the ‘ghost gear’ collection programme.

During our project, ghost gear was retrieved from the Indian Ocean and taken back to shore to be weighed, recorded and then either responsibly recycled, or distributed among the community to be up-cycled.

By the end of the project in December 2021, these one-by-one tuna fishers collected enough ghost nets to offset the total weight of all gear loss contributions of half of the national Maldivian fleet which is almost 350 vessels. A video also has been compiled showing the tremendous efforts of these fishers engaged in cleaning the oceans  and their attempts to up-cycle these ‘ghost gear’ which otherwise left will destroy Maldivian inshore habitats and marine life.

We are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by the fishers of Gemanafushi and the council throughout the project.

You can find the full article and press release via this link and please enjoy the project video below.

‘Turning the Tide on Ocean Plastic Pollution in the Maldives’

On the Sea, in the Ground with MOPA

IPNLF-Maldives and Maldives Ocean Plastic Alliance (MOPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 27th September 2021, to tackle the problem of marine plastic pollution.

After months of preparation, MOPA launched its Model Island Programme in Dh. Kudahuvadhoo on February 17th, 2022.  MOPA provided every household in the island with two different kinds of bins to put recyclable and non-recyclable waste. This work supports the Government’s first regulation for household waste segregation, which was imposed on the islands in January 2022.

IPNLF-Maldives partnered with MOPA and launched the initiative to understand the plastic footprint of Maldivian tuna fisheries, especially targeted at the harvesting sector. We trialed a Plastic Footprint Assessment in Dh.Kudahuvadhoo by surveying fishermen, and we hope to cover at least 100 fishing vessels from around the country, and identify the plastic footprint and consumption of fishing vessels, and identify barriers and drivers for stopping single use plastics. We also have plans to distribute gunny bags to fishing vessels where they can collect single-use plastics and dispose of them safely in bins that MOPA will place at the harbor, where MOPA will also organize for the recycling of those plastics.

Providing solutions to marine ocean pollution from the fisheries sector is a high priority for IPNLF-Maldives. This is because the sustainability of the fishing sector is intricately connected to the health of the ocean. Every year, an estimated 10 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean[1], and plastics continue to make up 80 percent of the marine debris in our oceans. These figures are startling and should concern coastal communities like ours, where the country comprises 98 percent ocean. In addition, plastic particles break down into microplastics, and can be ingested by marine animals in the ocean, which may end up in the fish we eat, through a process known as bioaccumulation in the food chain[2]. That is why IPNLF is dedicated to solving the leakage of plastics from fishing vessels in the Maldives, and we aim to support the fishermen to shift towards more sustainable alternatives.

IPNLF – Maldives Collaborates with MNU on Livebait Research

IPNLF-Maldives is collaborating with the Maldives National University (MNU) on developing a resource map of the tuna livebait fishery of the Maldives. An MNU Research Grant was awarded to Ms. Mariyam Nashath, Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, Science and Technology, and where its work is delegated to the IPNLF-Maldives.  The projects’ focus is to map tuna livebait fishing areas of the south central Maldives through administering  an in-person survey questionnaire to experienced fishers chosen from randomly selected fishing vessels. The survey will attempt to delineate livebait fishing areas and collect information on the fishing method(s) and fished species. It is hoped the information will allow us to develop use-intensity maps of livebait resources that would help facilitate conservation and management of popular livebait fishing grounds.

As part of the collaboration, IPNLF – Maldives has been assisting MNU students on conducting research surveys. Dr. Shiham Adam, Director for Science and the Maldives, and Dr. Riyaz Jauharee at MMRI conducted lectures to MNU students on designing and conducting survey questionnaires. They were also supervised conducting interviews with the fishers on Hulhumale as part of the field work.

The field work of the project has just started and we should be able to report progress in the next issue of the Newsletter

Fishery Observer Trips

IPNLF has been conducting fishery observer trips targeting the handline yellowfin tuna fishery. The fishery, whose harvests are mainly for fresh exports, is considered second most important in the Maldives. Despite its importance, there is little published information about the fishery. The Maldives Seafood Processors and Exporters Association (MSPEA), together with the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, has committed to an MSC Fishery Improvement Project which identifies areas of improvement in the fishery via stakeholder engagement. As well as other yellowfin tuna stock rebuilding advocacy work, which the Ministry is engaged with via IOTC, the improvement project identifies areas of fishery impacts on the ecosystem, which requires additional information to strengthen and inform management and conservation. For example, data collection around the livebait used in handline fishery and interactions with Endangered, Threatened or Protected Species (ETP) have been identified as areas of improvement. 

In addition to acquiring information on livebait and ETP interactions, IPNLF Observer trips will capture detailed operational catch and bycatch information which is essential for a comprehensive review. So far, observers have collected data on 4 trips, totalling more than 30 observation days as part of IPNLF-Maldives’ commitment to the Handline Yellowfin Tuna FIP.