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Foreign fishermen captured with 1-ton of catch, including sharks

Sri Lankan fishing boat, Oshadi I, captured in Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone by the Coastguard on December 19, 2018. (Photo/MNDF)

The Sri Lankan fishermen captured from the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone on December 19 had catch weighing approximately one-ton – including sharks, says the Coastguard.

The Sri Lankan fishing boat, Oshadi I, was sighted by a local fishing boat 42 miles outside G. Dh. Gadhdhoo on the afternoon of December 19.

Speaking during a press conference on the operation this Tuesday morning, Coastguard Commander, Brigadier-General Ali Zuhair said the fishing boat and the seven Sri Lankans on board the fishing boat are now in custody of Maldives Police Service.

“The boat, in addition to sea fish, also had sharks. The boat had approximately one-ton of fish,” said Zuhair.

He said the boat is now at the Dhoonidhoo Custodial for investigation.

Zuhair noted the case came at the heels of a joint EEZ surveillance operation by Indian Navy and Maldivian Coastguard to check for any illegal activities within the EEZ. And stressed the need to develop resources necessary for surveillance of the EEZ within the Coastguard itself.

He said the Indian Navy and Maldivian Coastguard has been running monthly marine and air operations to survey the EEZ since 2009.

Major Ahmed Mujthaba said surveillance of the EEZ was a huge task, both in the number of square kilometres which needs to be covered and the cost of fuel.

“200,000-square kilometres are surveyed each month. The Maldivian territory is approximately 900,000-square kilometres. Marine surveillance is run at the cost of MVR 500,000 just for fuel,” said Mujthaba.

He said the joint EEZ surveillance is run by focusing on the best fishing spots each month.

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