Maldives Sharkwatch Report for 2009 – 2010Published online in July 2012
Maldives Sharkwatch Report for 2009 – 2010
Mohamed Ushan, Elizabeth Wood, Mariyam Saleem, Shahaama A. Sattar
Sharks are top predators playing an important ecological role on coral reefs. Due to their slow growth, late maturity and low fecundity, many sharks are very vulnerable to over-exploitation. Historically fished in the Maldives for their liver oil, the fishery intensified in the late 1970s because of the value of dried shark’s fin and salted shark meat as export commodities. After 1975, the estimated annual shark catch of 575 metric tonnes (MT) rose rapidly to 1,500 MT and subsequently fluctuated between 1,100 MT and 2,000 MT annually until 1998, when a 10 year moratorium on all types of shark fishing inside and within 12 miles of 7 major ‘tourism’ atolls was declared in order to minimize the conflict between the shark fishery and the tourism industry. However, shark sighting reports continued to decline, leading to the eventual ban of shark fishing inside and within 12 miles of the outer atoll rims of all atolls of Maldives in 2009 and a total ban on shark fishing from Maldivian waters in 2010. ‘Sharkwatch’ with the participation of the tourism industry and resorts, was launched in July 2009 to collect baseline information and monitor the outcomes and effectiveness of the ban. This is the first time that stock surveys have been attempted in the Maldives and the data collected will be invaluable in providing a better understanding of the current population of reef shark species and the effectiveness of recently implemented management measures.
Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, Cairns, Australia, 9-13 July 2012