A new regulation stipulating hefty fines for foreign vessels fishing in the Maldives Maritime Zone was implemented earlier this month. This regulation aims to put a stop to illegal, unreported, and unauthorised foreign vessels from fishing in Maldivian waters. It includes procedures on how to report and share information regarding illegal and unreported vessels and further stipulates forming a special committee to assess such cases. Furthermore, the regulation states that foreign vessels are only allowed to enter the Maldives’ jurisdiction with approval from the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture. It also prohibits foreign vessels from using or catching any endangered species in the Maldives.
According to the regulation, vessels must apply for approval 4 days prior to entering the Maldives. Applying for approval requires vessels to submit a “Request by fishing vessel to cross or enter the Maritime Zone of the Maldives” form, along with pertinent vessel documents.
Additionally, the regulation lays out the obligations and conditions under which vessels may enter the Maldives’ waters, including but not limited to;
- All fishing equipment should be lashed and stowed in the vessel
- Having a tracking device switched on uponentering the Maldives, kept on until exit
- Keeping a VHF set onboard
- Maintaining the same speed at all times whilein the Maldives’ waters
- Not participating in any activity related tofishing and respecting the laws andregulations of the Maldives.
The Maldives Police or National Defence Force has the right to subdue any vessel which does not adhere to said conditions. Furthermore, such vessels can be fined and have their assets destroyed or sold according to the regulation.
Details of fines stipulated in the regulation are as below.
- MVR 100,000 fine for vessels entering or attempting to enter Maldivian Waters without prior approval from the designated Ministry
- MVR 100,000 fine for vessels which do not adhere to all conditions set in the regulation or for providing false information while seeking approval
- Between MVR 2 million and MVR 40 million for Fishing, trying to fish or participating in any activity related to fishing.
- Fishing without licence:
- MVR 500,000 for vessels less than 100 gross tons
- MVR 2 million for vessels between 100 to 500 gross tons
- MVR 8 million for vessels of more than 500 gross tons
- MVR 100, 000 each from vessel operators, masters, and vessel owners for acts of catching, using, or killing endangered species in the Maldives
- MVR 100,000 for interfering with the actions of relevant government authorities
- MVR 100,000 for releasing any equipment in the Maldivian waters.
The Maldives government has the right to seize vessels which refuse to pay fines imposed for illegal, unreported, or unauthorised fishing in the Maldives.