The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) revealed earlier this month that they had captured 3 foreign vessels fishing illegally in Maldivian waters.
The first two vessels, named ‘Banuzan’ and ‘Rathu 01’, were apprehended by a Coast Guard ship named Ghazee on 30th November 2022. MNDF reported that there were 6 crew members aboard each vessel.
A third Sri Lankan vessel, named ‘Lakhpaviya Denethu’ was captured illegally fishing in the Maldives Maritime Zone on 01st December 2022, by the same Coast Guard ship. According to MNDF, it had 7 crew members aboard and the vessel had a large number of sharks and other fish on it, presumed to have been unlawfully caught in Maldivian waters.
The 3 vessels were taken to Malé and Dhoonidhoo under the supervision of the Coast Guard. Investigation of the vessels is reportedly underway.
In August this year, a new regulation stipulating hefty fines for foreign vessels fishing in the Maldives Maritime Zone was implemented. According to the regulation, in addition to the MVR 100,000 fine for illegal entry into Maldivian waters, a fine of up to MVR 40 million may be imposed for fishing without a license. Furthermore, capturing, killing, or damaging sharks is strictly banned in the Maldives, and infractors may be charged up to MVR 100,000 as per the regulation.