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Fish catch

From the mid 90s onwards the fish catch in the Maldives has been around 120 thousand metric ton. Roughly half of this or about 60 thousand metric tons goes towards exports.

Despite the relatively stable export figures, foreign exchange earnings from this have continued to fluctuate wildly, because of the vicissitudes of the international market. The limited capacity of the state owned Maldives Industrial Fisheries Corporation (MIFCO) to handle fish exports during good fishing seasons may also adversely affect earnings.

The main export products have been skipjack tuna, yellow-fin tuna dogtooth tuna and reef fish.

There has been a recent trend towards an increase in the size of fishing vessels with capacities from 10-12 tons. As a result the catch per trip has been increasing gradually. The CPUE of the mechanized vessels has increase from 438 kg per trip per vessel to 607kg per trip per vessel during the late 90s. This trend is more pronounced in the Southern atolls of GA and GDH, where the CPUE increased by 71.82% and 55.76% respectively.


It is also observed that the quality of fish landing from these larger vessels is poor. The quality problem could be solved only providing ice to the larger fishing vessels.


The export figures shows that a total of 70.8 thousand metric tons of fish were exported. This corresponds to 60% of the total catch and 4% increase in quantity compared to 1997. In valued terms US $56.5 million were earned which is a slight increase compared to 1997. The export earnings by the public sector increased by 21% and their export mainly consists of canned tuna, frozen skipjack and frozen yellowfin tuna. The export earnings by the private sector shows a decline of 19% and their export mainly consists of dried skipjack, fresh and chilled tuna and reef fish. This decline in earnings of private sector could be due to low price of Maldive fish in Sri Lankan Market.