President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Wednesday, revealed the government's decision authorising island councils to manage their Ice Plants and Fish Processing Plants.
During the ceremony held in Gemanafushi, Gaafu Alifu to celebrate Maldives' 38th Fishermen's Day, President Solih distributed certificates of appreciation to the fishermen of the island.
The people of Gemanafushi are famous for their skill in pole and line fishing.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Solih stated that the administration's decision was made in the interest of ensuring the most efficient management possible.
"With the management handed over to the Island Councils, the ice plants are expected to run in ways most beneficial to all fishermen, together with the input of the Maldivian fishing community", said President Solih.
"This will be a great way to get the public involved in the industry", said President Solih.
Stating that the funding of Fish Processing Plants on local islands was an electoral pledge, the President revealed that research to determine the best ways to incorporate the Island Councils to the management of these ice plants is currently ongoing.
"The government is striving to develop an island nation like Maldives by establishing a decentralized, blue economy", said President Solih.
The President highlighted that the ice plants will be expanded to twice current sizes, able to house 50 tonnes of ice at a time.
"Shortage of ice supply has been the biggest complaint made by the fishermen of this island. The current ice plant, housing 25 tonnes of ice, is not sufficient", said President Solih.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Zaha Waheed highlighted plans to introduce a loan scheme targeting the development of refrigeration facilities aboard fishing boats.
In addition, President Solih also mentioned the introduction of a loan scheme to aid fishermen with fundings for building boats and installing engines. The loan scheme is to be carried out in cooperation with local banks.
Further, the president spoke of a nation-wide awareness program aimed at reducing minor and life-threatening accidents frequently faced by fishermen who dive without proper training.
Reported incidents of Diving Decompression Sickness (DCS) cases among fishermen have risen in recent times, as well as increased cases of deaths and paralysis caused by untrained divers whilst fishing for bait and groupers.
A local fisherman Ameeth Saeed, died on December 7 while receiving treatment for DCS at Thinadhoo Regional Hospital, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Saeed was diving alongside three other fishermen, two of whom also exhibited symptoms of decompression sickness, but recovered soon after.
The President praised the social media initiative 'Gemanafushi Masverin', (loosely translated as the Fishermen of Gemanafushi), attributing a newly sparked interest in fishing amongst the youth to the frequently shared videos and photos on the handle's twitter and facebook pages.