Maldives bans reef shark hunting

Mar 05, 2009 (LBO) – The Indian Ocean atoll nation of Maldives said it had banned shark hunting close to shore and a complete ban on shark products exports was on the cards to shore up depleting numbers.

The Maldives attracts 600,000 tourists per year and the sector accounts for 28 percent of gross domestic product.

Fishing is the Maldives’ second biggest industry after tourism.

Only 180 of the country’s 15,000 fishermen are believed to hunt sharks, the statement said. The government says it will start a program to find alternative sources of income for shark hunters.

There is no domestic market for shark products in the Maldives. Sharks caught in
the Maldives are exported, mainly to East Asia.

In 2007, shark products had accounted for just 0.2 percent of the country’s total marine exports. “Today, we announced a complete ban on all shark hunting within the Maldives’ atolls and lagoons and in the waters up to 12 miles off the Maldivian atoll coast,” fisheries minister Ibrahim Didi said in a statement Friday.

“This will protect all types of reef sharks in the Maldives. Within 365 days, we will extend the ban to all of the country’s territorial waters.”

“This