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President Of Maldives Increase Minimum Price For Tuna

President Mohamed Nasheed announced today plans to dramatically overhaul government fish policy, pledging an increase on the price floor of catch.

The price floor of a kilo of tuna has been around US$0.27 since 2005, but addressing media, Nasheed said the government intended to increase this to around US$0.47.

“We believe the floor price should be at least six rufiyaa (US$0.47),” said the president, adding he believed local fishermen were entitled to earn the same amount as in the international market.

Nasheed added he intended to change the price floor of catches from every six months to every week.

The president noted there was no competition among buyers, as a result of giving “exclusivity” to certain markets.

“We are planning to widen the market by negotiating between the existing sellers and buyers,” he said.

The main fish exporting companies include the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO), Island Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Horizon Fisheries Pvt Ltd.

Fishing is the second leading sector in the Maldives after tourism, contributing 11 percent of GDP.

Mohamed Hassan, a fisherman from Huvadhu atoll, said the president’s decision to fix the floor price according to the international market price every week was a long-standing demand from fishermen.

“I thank the president,” said the 37-year old. “Previously, buyers were taking advantage of the six-month period, without taking the latest market prices into consideration.”

Ali Saeed, 42, a fisherman from Addu atoll said he would only comment once the government went ahead with its plans.

He added the increase suggested by the president was nominal and there were still numerous other factors that needed to be taken into account.

“We have to travel 150 miles to catch only four tons of fish, which uses up 1,200 litres of diesel,” he said. “And a litre of diesel costs Rf7.95 (US$0.62), while we only get Rf5.50 (US$0.43) for a kilo.”

The main markets for Maldivian fish exports are Thailand, Germany, Japan, UK, Iran and Sri Lanka.

Speaking to Minivan News in early March, state minister Adhil Saleem, former chairman of the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO), said Maldivian fish exports “should get a better price” in the West where “sustainability and conservation” is valued.

Adhil said fish caught by pole-and-line fishing in the Maldives received the same price as products from countries that use net fishing, even though it was more environmentally-friendly.