Fishers protesting Horizon Fisheries in L. Maandhoo demand for MVR21 million in unpaid fees.
The protests started at 08:30 on Saturday, November 12, outside of Maandhoo Fishing Complex, which is owned by business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Horizon Fisheries.
Initial demands to the protests were to provide solutions to the challenges that fishermen now face, including the higher cost of diesel, delays in payment, and alternative ways for weighing fish that were brought in after 22:00. However, the protests were dispersed by police with the use of pepper spray, which led to even more protestors joining. The fishermen tallied up the total of unpaid fees owed to vessels and estimate that a total of MVR21 million needs to be paid overall.
Fishers unable to buy diesel due to debt
The fishermen noted they are in debt to other diesel providers due to the unpaid amount, and are no longer able to secure their own diesel to operate their vessels.
“We don’t have anyone who will give us diesel now. We don’t have a way to go fishing. As we’re in this current situation, we started this peaceful protest. However the police came and started to peppers-spray us to disperse us, and things got heated, and that’s why this protest got heated.” the fisher explained.
“We have not received a satisfying answer from Horizon Fisheries.” said one of the fishers to Masverin. “We were told the company doesn’t have the MVR21 million, and to wait another 21 days to see if they can arrange it.”
However, there is no written documents guaranteeing that the money will be paid within that time to any of the vessels operating for the company.
“We have asked them to pay us for the 30 days since first billing – for all the fish we’ve provided for them since then. This is a simple method we’re proposing. That way they can pay us a sum once a month, and we will be able to get a profit.” The fisher said.
Horizon Fisheries denies wrongdoing – started discussions with fishers
In response to protests, Horizon Fisheries stated they have paid all bills that were due in time.
The company said they are unable to provide the government subsidy for diesel as they are privately owned, and are facing challenges in addressing the problems identified by fishermen.
“We are in discussions with the relevant authorities to provide solutions to the fishermen. We are also speaking with the vessels that operate for Maandhoo Fisheries Complex to see how we can support them.”
However, the company said the challenges the fishermen were facing were linked to global economic recession and the inflation due to that, and that fisheries is not doing well in the world.