Local surfers spotted workers from China Communications Construction Company, Ltd. (CCCC) illegally fishing and finning sharks at Raalhugandu Surf point on Thursday.
Photos and videos shot by surfers circulating on social media on Thursday depict Chinese bridge workers having illegally caught and finned sharks at the crew quarters located on Boduthakurufaanu Magu.
The footage shows sharks fins and skin which were hung outside to be dried after they were caught at the crew quarters.
Fishing of all types of sharks has been banned throughout Maldives for nearly a decade, as stated in the Fisheries Act of Maldives, 1987 (Act No. 5/87).
Looking back, a ten-year moratorium was imposed in 1998 on shark fishing, a fishery sector in conflict with the far more lucrative pole and line tuna industry. By the end of the moratorium, due to lowered sightings of reef sharks, coupled with declining status of shark fisheries, on 1st of March 2009, the government declared a ban on reef shark fishing within 12 nautical miles from outer rims of all atolls. On 15th of March 2010, a total ban on shark fishing was imposed in all Maldivian waters.
This last occurrence marks only the latest issue in what is becoming a series of events being reported by ocean-goers in the area.
Surfers recently expressed concerns over dangerous debris left at the famous surf break, post-construction of Sinamale Bridge. The surf break had been closed off during the building phase and was officially reopened to surfers by Minister for Housing and Infrastructure Dr. Mohamed Muiz, following the inauguration of the bridge.
Maldives Surfing Association’s Secretary General, Hasan Zaki, elaborated on the concerns, highlighting that the presence of a sewerage pipe from the Chinese crew quarters that released contaminated water directly onto the beach and surf break. According to a surfer, the presence of a sewerage pipe was reported to the Police in September.
Zaki also reported that water bottles filled with urine had been thrown onto the surf break from the housing units of the Chinese workers built on the eastern coastline.
The Edition's sources report that thus far, none of the above concerns has been attended to by authorities.
The landmark Sinamale Bridge, representing the friendship between Maldives and China, was officially inaugurated on August 30, having built with USD 126 million in aid provided by the Chinese government. The over-water bridge joins capital city Male to the airport island Hulhule and reclaimed suburb Hulhumale'.