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Swiss Retailer Safeguards Future of Maldives Pole-and-line Fishermen

07 November 2013

SWITZERLAND - A new Fishermen’s Community & Training Centre (FCTC) in the Maldives, launches its curriculum this week (10th November), to nurture the country’s pole-and-line fishing communities through the provision of invaluable fisheries training and education.

Supported by Switzerland’s Migros Group’ Engagement Fund, in collaboration with the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF), the centre will provide funding a series of training courses (free of charge) to school leavers and current pole-and-line fishermen. These courses will focus on responsible fishing practices aimed to improve the sustainability and efficiency of the Maldives’ pole­and­line tuna and bait fish fishery, ensuring the industry’s viability for future generations.

A joint project by both IPNLF and the Engagement Development Fund (established by Migros Group in 2012), the project represents substantial industry support for pole-and-line caught tuna.

Lorence Weiss, Head of Category of Management and Purchasing with Migros, explains why supporting this method of fishing is so important to the Swiss retailer: "Pole-and-line safeguards the health of our seas, while providing a sustainable source of livelihoods. Unprecedented demand for pole-and-line tuna mean that it’s vital to work closely with these fisheries to ensure their long-term viability."

John Burton, Chairman of the IPNLF adds: "The centuries-old Maldives fishery currently supports some 30,000 people, or 15 per cent of the total Maldivian workforce. The Fishermen’s Community & Training Centre will drive sustainability at a local level to ensure pole-and-line communities of today and tomorrow thrive."

The centre will be run by the Maldives Fishermen Association (MFA) and will be located in the south central Maldives on Gan Island in Laamu Atoll.

From this base location, tutors both at the academy and travelling throughout the Maldives will teach current fishermen and newly graduated school leavers on a range of subjects, from improving fishing practices to post­harvest quality control to improved recording of catch and fishing effort. The training material, approved by the Maldives Qualification Authority (MQA), will eventually form the basis for a formal Maldives curriculum on Pole­and­line Master Fishermen Training.

Mr Shaan, a young Maldivian fishermen says what the centre would mean to him: "I come from a long line of pole-and-line fishermen; it is in my blood. For as long as I can remember I have never wanted to do anything else and this new centre will give me the skills and confidence to fulfil this dream in a way that respects the fishery."

This week, the centre will launch its specialised curriculum upon a first intake of students. The FCTC will open its doors officially in late January next year, with endorsement from the Maldivian Minister of Fisheries & Agriculture.

The FCTC has also received the support of Maldivian fishing bodies, which are keen to ensure the islands’ traditional fishery maximises the potential of its resource while remaining the most sustainable method of catching tuna.

"The global demand for pole-and-line tuna is at a level never seen before. The new centre will guide Maldivian fishermen so they understand what overseas consumers and markets require. This should ensure we maximise the value of our catch," says Adnan Ali, President of Maldives Seafood Processors and Exporters Association.

In addition to the curriculum on responsible and sustainable fishing, the privately-owned Maldives Institute of Technology will assist the FCTC in developing course content and training modules for a marine electrical wiring course that is customised for the fishing sector.

The centre will also provide fishery zone information services to fishing vessels through both two-way satellite communications and SMS messages over local GPRS networks.

The sign's on the door - a first step to the academy's launch in January © IPNLF

FCTC Training Summary

  • Coastal navigation, communication and safety at sea
  • Marine engine repair and maintenance
  • Best practice methods of fishing
  • Maldives fishery regulations
  • Increasing fishing efficiency
  • Basic biological and physical oceanography

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