World Bank approves USD64.8Mn project to boost Maldives fisheries

Fishermen use pole and line fishing method to catch skipjack tuna. Pole and line fishing is a selective and therefore more sustainable way to catch tuna as only fish of a certain size are caught, leaving juveniles to grow to spawning age and replenish the stock in the future. Small bait fish are thrown over the side of the boat to lure the tuna to the water surface. The fishermen use the acceleration of the fish as they race to get their prey, hook them and fling them onto the ship’s flat deck.

The World Bank has approved a USD64.8 million project to strengthen regional fisheries management in the South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region to improve the competitiveness of the Maldives fisheries sector.

The Transforming Fisheries Sector Management in South-West Indian Ocean Region and Maldives Project (TransFORM) aims to improve fisheries management in the region, and strengthen the regional collaboration by producing and sharing knowledge, data, and research to support evidence-based decision-making; improving fisheries and fish stock assessments; providing targeted capacity development; and promoting effective collaboration with other fisheries management regional initiatives.

Speaking about the project, the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Faris H. Hadad-Zervos said, “Maldives’ strong track record in sustainable fisheries management can serve as a model for other countries in the South-West Indian Ocean region.”

“This project also promotes a larger role for small and medium enterprises in the fisheries and allied sectors such as mariculture and aquaculture and is part of the overall strategic engagement between the Government of Maldives and the World Bank to address the weak investment and business climate that contains private sector development in the country.”

While the project will build national capacities, skill and regulations to improve fisheries sector governance, the longer-term aim is for the Maldives to serve as a regional enabler providing knowledge and capacity building support to the SWIO region.

“This project supports greater regional cohesion and cooperation and provides a platform for mutual learning and support,” said Sachiko Kondo, World Bank Task Team Leader.

“Appropriate skilling of stakeholders, developing national capacities to address challenges such as biosecurity, decarbonization, and promoting environmentally sound production and value chains are all part of the fisheries sector management and governance agenda. The project will build such capacities for the benefit of Maldives and the wider southwest Indian Ocean region,” said Tapas Paul, World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist and Co-Task Team Leader.

The project will be implemented by the regional Indian Ocean Commission and Maldives Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture.

The total financing of USD64.8 million is comprised of a USD12 million grant to Indian Ocean Commission, and a USD26.4 million grant with another USD26.4 million credit to the Maldives from the International Development Association (IDA); the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing nations.