Fishing is the most lucrative and rewarding occupation available for youth in the Maldives, says Ali Akbar, who was on Thursday dubbed the ‘Young Fisherman of the Year’.
31-year-old Akbar was given this title at a ceremony held in Gemanafushi island of Gaafu Alif atoll to mark the 38th national Fishermen’s Day by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Akbar described his vocation as one based on hard work and ambition. Akbar said that advancing in the occupation solely depends on how much work is put in.
“I would like to tell the youth today that fishing is an extraordinary calling, you really earn your keep. It makes you a lot of money and you earn every bit of it. How much you advance also depends on how much work you put in”, Akbar said.
At the ceremony on Thursday night, President Solih had also conferred other titles to local fishermen; including the title of longest-serving ‘keyolhu’, the Dhivehi name for experienced fishermen.
This title was bestowed upon 61-year-old Mohamed Nizar, native to Dhevvadhoo island of Gaafu Alif Atoll. Nizar, of Orchidmaage, has been fishing since he was 12 years old.
The southern Gemanafushi Island has been known historically as a hub for fishing. The island sits on the outer regions of Gaafu Alif Atoll, facing nothing but vast areas of the Indian Ocean to its east.
The island is also home to the Gemanafushi Masverin, a non-profit organization, which in their words ‘aims to promote pole-and-line fishing together with all the related activities of fishing in the Maldives’.
Tuna is the single most important fishery in the Maldives and most fishing vessels in the country use pole-and-line fishing, with the local method having been accredited in 2012 for sustainability by the Marine Stewardship Council. The local fishing method, save for advancement in motor vessels and pole design, has remained largely unchanged for the last eight centuries.
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