Ensis Fisheries has decided to stop purchasing fish from local fishermen after Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) raised the purchasing price of skipjack tuna to MVR 25 per kilogram.
The Director of the largest private fisheries company in Maldives, Ensis Fisheries’ Abdul Wahid said on Saturday, said that they have stopped purchasing fish at the increased price due to concerns that they may incur substantial losses.
MIFCO started to purchase skipjack tuna for MVR 25 per kilogram last night.
Wahid said the price for skipjack tuna was set at MVR 17, which was just barely affordable, and since MIFCO increased the price to MVR 25, they will be suffering a loss of MVR 12 per every kilogram. He added that MIFCO is able to purchase fish at that price because they receive government subsidies, yet private parties will find it difficult to purchase at that price.
"If fishermen can receive the subsidy directly, they can sell it to private companies at the fixed rate. While these discussions are ongoing, the government is announcing its intention to purchase fish at MVR 25. However, there is no specified date for when this will occur," he said.
Wahid said from a business standpoint, they cannot afford to purchase fish at the set price of MVR 25 per kilogram.
“Fishermen will not sell fish to us when they can sell to MIFCO at MVR 25. That's why we have stopped purchasing. Therefore, we are requesting the government to give us that difference. If they don’t give us the difference we will have to close our factories as well,” he said.
At the Ensis' factory located in Hulhumalé, over 200 employees are engaged in work, with nearly 80 percent of them being women.
He said they developed a fish cannery and a factory after withdrawing large foreign loans and they can not go forward with production in the face of such great losses. He said the company committed to such a big investment because the government gave the assurance that private companies would have a good future in the business.
A significant portion of Ensis Fisheries' business is comprised of fish and fish products.
The Maldivian government has been in continuous discussions with the European Union (EU) to reduce the duty of fish products exported from Maldives into the region, and the government has said they are confident that these discussions are going forward well. Currently, a 22 percent duty is taken from fish products exported from Maldives.