International Jurists’ report on Maldives
Ahmed Thasmeen Ali
Ahmed Thasmeen Ali MP. File:Thasmeen1.jpg Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party
Member Peoples Majlis Incumbent Assumed office
17 February 2010 Preceded by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Minister of Atolls Development In office
2007–2008 President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Preceded by Abdulla Hameed Succeeded by Waheed deen Minister of Home Affairs In office
14 July 2005 – 25 June 2007 President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Preceded by Ismael Shafeeu Succeeded by Abdulla Kamaaludeen Personal details Born 30 September 1966
Male’ Political party Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, DRP Spouse(s) Visam Ali Children one Religion Muslim Website http://thasmeen.org/
Ahmed Thasmeen Ali ތަސްމީން(born 1966), Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party DRP  is a Maldivian MP, philanthropist and a businessman. Thasmeen started his career as a civil servant and after venturing into politics he was elected to Peoples Majlis from Baa Atoll and later he served in Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s cabinet and was his running mate in the first multiparty election held in the Maldives in 2008. 
His first Cabinet portfolio was Minister of Atolls Development and later served as Minister of Home Affairs,(14 July 2005 – 25 June 2007). 
- 1 Education, family early career
- 2 Political career
- 3 Police Capacity Building
- 4 Party to new heights
- 5 GMR Issue
- 6 Political Positions
- 7 References
 Education, family early career
He holds a BA degree in Economics from University of Warwick in England and a Master’s degree in Political Science of the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Thasmeen is married to Ms. Visam Ali MP for Raa. Maduvvaree legislative circle and the couple have a child. Thasmeen practices diving, snorkeling, sea sports and fishing in his free time. Besides native language Dhivehi he is fluent English and understands Arabic (having lived in Egypt for his Masters studies.) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali owns resorts and other businesses, including Reethi Beach Resort and Fonaddhoo Tuna Products. He is a philanthropist.
Mr. Thasmeen was active in student association activities in England and in Cairo, Egypt.
He has been an MP for Baa atoll since the 1990s.
 Political career
Thasmeen is active in politics since 1994 and was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1994. Since then he has been representing Baa Kendhoo Constituency.  In addition to that he has held various posts as a civil servant at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and later he served as Minister of Atolls Development and Minister of Home Affairs.
- Deputy Speaker of the Parliament from 1993 to 1998.
- Deputy Leader of DRP, elected with the highest votes in the party’s first congress.
- Represented Maldives Parliament at various Commonwealth Parliamentary meetings.
 Police Capacity Building
Maldives Police Service was introduced as a separate civilian agency during Mr. Thasmeen’s tenure as Minister of Home Affairs.  He embarked on recruiting new police personnel and introduced Jail reform activities with the help from Western Australia Police to comply with international human rights norms. He started construction of a maximum security prison with a vision to improve the living condition for inmates.
The first Police Training School, housed in Addu Atoll was opened under his patronage.
Many modern scientific methods of investigation in Maldives Police Service were introduced under his instruction, including establishing Forensic Labs and deployment of CCTV camera in strategic points in the capital of Male’. The Community Policing concept used in policing in the Maldives is introduced under his guidance.
In a leaked cable titled PROSPECTS FOR REFORM DOMINATE DISCUSSIONS IN MALDIVES the followings were noted: “Home Affairs Minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali join a cabinet that is growing younger and more dynamic as President Gayoom continues to make changes in an effort to prompt progress in the Special Majlis (parliament) that is considering constitutional reforms.
“Thasmeen Ali was keen to continue to develop the capacity of the national police force, which was split from the National Security Service (Maldives? military) late last year. He also outlined plans to develop a separate, well- trained prison service and to construct a new prison on Maahfushi Island, noting that the current prison there, in which prisoners are kept in large common areas rather than smaller cells, makes it almost impossible to control or remove individual prisoners. He noted that his ministry, as part of the GoRM decision to invite the ICRC in to look at prison conditions, will work from ICRC standards as it designs the new prison.” 
 Party to new heights
During Thasmeen’s leadership he took DRP to a new height. Though DRP was defeated in the 2008 presidential election he managed to increase the party membership and made gains in the parliamentary election and local elections.
With Thasmeen at the helm DRP secured more seats in the parliament than Nasheed’s ruling MDP. This is a major victory to DRP, especially since this came during the honeymoon period of the new government. 
During the split of the party there was much criticism leveled to Mr. Thasmeen by Gayoom supporters accusing Thasmeen of the 2008 defeat. However, DRP issued a statement reflecting of the past success in elections under Thasmeen saying “we note with regret that the party was unable to win a single election under President Maumoon’s leadership when it was in the government.”
“One of the main reasons for DRP having to face one of its biggest defeats (2008 Presidential Election) and MDP coming to power and causing despair for most citizens was the fact that the whole presidential campaign was run by Gayoom’s eldest son Farish Maumoon as a family matter,” said DRP statement.  However, the gains DRP made in the parliamentary election did not last long. With the internal conflict  it took a toll on party in terms on numbers in the parliament  and Gayoom formed a new political party.  With the formation of PPM, DRP accused PPM of poaching members  and later in the parliament it paved way for President Nasheed’s MDP to gain majority on the floor. 
 GMR Issue
With the internal strife going on in DRP the Deputy Leader of DRP Mr. Umar Naseer alleged that Thasmeen and Speaker of the Parliament met GMR, new operator of Maldives International Airport, and the company had bribed them. Speaking to Miadhu daily  Thasmeen said there is no reasonable motive for GMR to hold secret talks with him and the leasing of the airport came in a time when Peoples Majlis is tirelessly working on securing state assets. Replying to a question on what can be done Thasmeen said “The matter is in judicial phase. Then what else can be done? It is impossible to hold demonstrations in the airport and cause strife there. Should we destroy the tourism industry of this country?” 
The Anti-Corruption Commission investigated the matter and questioned Mr. Umar Naseer and Mr. Gayoom and issued a report saying the commission was not provided with any solid evidence to make these allegations. In his testimonies to ACC, the Honorary Leader of DRP, Gayyoom said that he was informed about the trip of Thasmeen and Shahid from the media and he got a SMS message stating the same. However, he said that he does not remember the sender. 
 Political Positions
- A month before President Nasheed’s resignation Thasmeen described Nasheed saying ‘who claims to be the vanguard of democracy is becoming more and more despotic’.
- Thasmeen scolded President Nasheed’s government’s violent demonstrations and corrupt practices describing than ruling party as “drenched in corruption” 
- Criticized the government of exerting political influence upon Maldives Police service and asked the officers not to obey the unlawful orders issued by the high command and not erode the aspirations of Maldives’ reformers. 
- Thasmeen criticized Mohamed Nasheed’s government of transgressing upon the values of democracy and causing intimidation against state institutes. 
- Thasmeen criticized the government’s failure in strengthening the economy and scaring foreign investors and eroding business confidence. 
- In his Islamic New Year Statement Thasmeen said that President Nasheed’s government has promoted aniti-islamic ideology for the past three years. 
- Thasmeen defeated a no confidence motion against President Nasheed which was initiated by 47 MPs in October 2011. 
- Thasmeen criticized PPM of following a political system which follows personalities instead of democratic rule. 
- Thasmeen criticized President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for going against DRP charter. 
- After party in-fighting Thasmeen asked anti-party elements to resign from party if they act against party charter. 
- Thasmeen called government to support for a Palestinian state. 
- Raised concerns against Nasheed’s government’s fiscal and economic reform program. 
- ^ Maldives Today (30 September 2011). “Its party time in Maldives again!”. Maldives Today. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Thasmeen.org (2010). “About Thasmeen”. Thasmeen.org. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ Ministry of Home Affairs (2010). “Previous heads of the ministry”. Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ Peoples Majlis (2010). “Majority and Minority leaders (in Dhivehi)”. Peoples Majlis. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ “Thasmeen aspires to be the President of Maldives”. Dhivehi Observer. 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
- ^ Eydhafushi Times (2009). “Parliamentary Elections 2009: Interim results for Baa atoll constituencies being announced”. Eydhafushi Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Miadhu Daily (10 August 2008). “Gayoom campaign kicks off”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ Maldives Police Service (11 March 2008). “Graduation ceremony of 14th police recruit training course held at Police Training School Addu”. Maldives Police Service. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ “Human rights training for Maldives police”. Miadhu Daily. 8 November 2006.
- ^ “Minister of Home Affairs and Commissioner of Police meet UK Expert”. Miadhu Daily. 3 June 2006.
- ^ US Embassy Colombo (21 October 2005). “PROSPECTS FOR REFORM DOMINATE DISCUSSIONS IN MALDIVES”. WIKI LEAKS. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ Maldives Today (11 February 2011). “Maldives Today”. Maldives Today. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Ahmed Nasih (3 October 2011). “DRP condemns Gayoom’s remarks on losing ground to MDP”. Minivan Daily. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ IPU via Majlis (2009). “MALDIVES Majlis (People’s Majlis)”. IPU. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Fathih Hussain (23 May 2011). “MDP winning Majlis”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ Maldives Today (7 April 2011). “DRP Internal conflict will be solved, assured Leader Thasmeen”. Maldives Today. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ Poorna Rodrigo (4 July 2011). “News Analysis: Numbers game in Parliament”. Asian Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ Neil Merrett (14 May 2011). “Gayoom expresses “disappointment” with Thasmeen’s DRP, upon his return”. Minivan Daily. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^ JJ Robinson (22 February 2011). “DRP accuses PPM of using cash incentives and development funding to poach members”. Minivan Daily. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ Ahmed Hamdoon (4 October 2011). “DRP MPs number drops to 17”. Haveeru Daily. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ Abdul Latheef (22 April 2011). “No reasonable motive for GMR to hold secret talks with me- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Miadhu Daily (21 November 2010). “Thasmeen denies meeting GMR”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ haveeru Daily (20 November 2010). “Thasmeen, Shahid deny meeting GMR officials”. Haveeru Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Staff Writer (25 June 2011). “I don’t know if Shahid and Thasmeen took bribes from GMR or not- Gayyoom”. World Freedom Watch. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (25 January 2012). “Govt is becoming more and more despotic: Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (31 October 2011). “Govt does nothing but padlock every office that they do not have an influence upon- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Maldives Today (30 October 2011). “Political influence in the top leadership of Maldives Police: Thasmeen”. Maldives Today. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- ^ Murshid Abdul Hakeem (1 November 2011). “Govt wants to hijack all the three states of power- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (20 November 2011). “Foreign investors don’t trust current regime- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Abdul Latheef (27 November 2011). “Anti-Islamic ideology promoted in the country for the last three years repeatedly – Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (14 October 2011). “Initiative of to take no-confidence vote against Nasheed was called off by Thasmeen- Mahloof”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (18 October 2011). “DRP didn’t adopt a system which follows personalities- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (5 September 2011). “Thasmeen rebuts Gayoom in less than 3 hrs after Gayoom’s resignation”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (5 September 2011). “Gayoom resigns from DRP”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Abdul Latheef (8 September 2011). “More people will join DRP when those who oppose party charter resigns- Thasmeen”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Abdul Latheef (21 September 2011). “AP and DRP calls govt to give full cooperation to Palestine to establish a viable sovereign state”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Abdul Latheef (22 August 2011). “Nasheed Answers Concerns Voiced by DRP-Opposition on Govt’s Fiscal and Economic Reform Programme”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- ^ Shaheeda Saeed (23 August 2011). “No opposition leader other than Thasmeen was brave enough to meet Nasheed- Shareef”. Miadhu Daily. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
Development Heights in the last 30 years
- 1. In 1978 the GDP per capita of the Maldives was USD 200 but today it is USD 3,000 - a 15-fold increase.
- 2. In 1978 there were only 4 government schools and 15,000 students. Today, there are 349 government schools and more than 86,000 students studying in the Maldives.
- 3. In 1978 there were only 65 university graduates in the country but today there are more than 3,000.
- 4. In 1985 there were 23 doctors and 74 nurses in the country, but now there are 550 doctors, 1,200 nurses, 600 medical personnel, and 800 community health workers.
- 5. The Infant Mortality Rate in 1978 was 120 per 1,000 live births, but today the number has been reduced to 10.
- 6. From 1978 till today, the Maternal Mortality Rate has been decreased from 6 to 1 per 1,000 live births.
- 7. Child Mortality Rate of children under 5 has been reduced to 18 per 1,000 live births from the previous figure of 180.
- 8. Life expectancy has been increased from 48 years in 1978 to 73 years in 2008.
- 9. In 1978 there only 7 doctors for all Maldivians totally but today there are 500 plus doctors
- 10. In 1978 there were only 7 doctors working in the country, but today the number exceeds 500.
- 11. From 1978 to 2008, the number of hospitals in the Maldives grew from 1 to 22.
- 12. The number of tourist arrivals in 1978 was 29,325 but today the figure stands greater than 675,000.
- 13. There were only 17 resorts and 1,300 beds in the Maldives in 1978. However, today there are 94 resorts and 22,000 beds.
- 14. The fish catch in 1978 was 25,800 tons but it has increased to 184,158 tons in 2006.
- 15. There were 413 mechanized fishing boats in 1977 but today the number exceeds 2000.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Mr. Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s Victory at Last Night’s TVM Running Mate Debate Mirrors Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Success at TVM’s Presidential Q&A
MALE, Maldives — The Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) Presidential candidate’s running mate, Mr. Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, defeated his fellow Presidential running-mates at last night’s “Running Mate Debate” organized by the Ministry of Legal Reform, Information and Arts (MLRIA) under its “Think Nation Campaign” and aired live on Television Maldives (TVM), Voice of Maldives (VOM) and private broadcasters. Mr. Thasmeen Ali’s victory mirrors that of DRP Presidential candidate and incumbent President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s success at the “Presidential Q&A” show which was also organized by the MLRIA as part of the “Think Nation Campaign”.
Mr. Thasmeen Ali was questioned as were all other candidates about the prospective condition of the Maldivian people in the next 5 years if each running mates respective party were to win the election. He drew on his academic qualifications and experience in order to answer this question. He also quoted from the DRP manifesto.
Opposition misleading international media to sabotage economy, claims government
The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has insisted the protests are ‘youth-led’ despite the apparent leadership of its MPs, and tried to replicate the ‘Arab Spring’ protests across the Middle East by branding President Nasheed as a despot to the international media and dubbing a busy Male’ intersection ‘Youth Square’. In the Washington Post piece, photos were published of 29 protests that have occurred around the world and were deemed to be among the biggest demonstrations and crackdowns of the decade – including the recent unrest in the Maldives. “Syria, Libya and other Middle Eastern regimes aren’t the only ones to use force against protesters. Here are some of the major crackdowns since 2000,” wrote the paper in a picture story on its website. The Maldives is listed at 28th, placed between the riots in Uganda last month over rising fuel costs – where protesters were shot at by police – and Egypt’s anti-government uprisings that ended the thirty year reign of President Hosni Mubarak in February. “In recent weeks, hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Maldives to demonstrate against soaring prices and demand the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed,” the article wrote, alongside a photograph of a local protester who appeared to have been knocked down by Maldivian police carrying batons. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/protests-and-crackdowns/2011/05/09/AFG1nKjG_gallery.html#photo=25
Ms Visam Ali ވިސާމް (born 1974) is a Maldivian Member of Parliament elected from Raa Atoll. Maduvvaree legislative district for Majlis of the Maldives. Prior to her political career she was a civil servant and headed the Department of Higher Education and Training, during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration.
Ali is a certified professional accountant, by CPA Australia. She went to Murdoch University and graduated in Accounting and Public Administration and completed her MBA at the University of Adelaide.
- MP Visam Ali has advocated for children and women’s rights.
- Advocated health care for thalassemia patients and submitted the Thalassemia control bill to the Peoples Majlis.
- Advocated for the rights of fishermen in her constituency and criticized President Mohamed Nasheed’s policy on using police against innocent people.
- Worked to develop table tennis in the Maldives during her tenure as Secretary General of Table Tennis Association.
- Declined to receive the controversial Rf20,000 committee allowance for MPs by Peoples Majlis.
- ^ Visam Ali
- ^ Changes made to Government posts
- ^ Parliament vows to tackle domestic violence
- ^ President Nasheed sends Thalassemia Bill back to parliament
- ^ Result of using police to carry dictatorial acts will not be good- Visam
- ^ Table tennis course continues in Maldives
- ^ Empowering Women to Benefit from Sport and Physical Education
- ^ MPs say declined committee allowance ‘in national interest
“That (polls for one and a half years term) is definitely not realistic and my party (DRP) would not support it. The only way we will back an election is if the president gets a full five year term and that can only happen if the constitution is amended,”
“we take this opportunity to strongly condemn her statements. We condemned the statements, as requested by our Parliamentary Group, moments after she made her remarks,”
This paper finds that communities in Vaavu, Meemu, Faafu, and Dhaalu atolls are generally well-aware of major issues on reef resources and are concerned with the depletion of some of these resources.
This paper also recognises that there are major implications in sharing resources and potential conflicts between the grouper fishery and the baitfishery. The sharing of resources is creating social problems and conflicts.
Communities believe that coral mining destroys reef resources and island environments. Some solutions to this issue include appropriate regulations, coral culture, availability of improved quality and increased use of bricks for construction purposes.
Extension of tourism activities into new areas must consider ways of sharing reef resources with fishing communities.
Issues concerning over-exploitation of reef resources are related to rapid growth of population and lack of sustainable development. As such, control of such factors including the even distribution of population is also necessary to avoid pressure on reef resources in one single area.
Atoll and island administrations require additional personnel and facilities to play an effective role in monitoring and management of reef resources.
Purpose and Objectives
The purpose of this paper is to contribute necessary information in order to achieve the workshop objectives of developing approaches for implementing the Integrated Reef Resource Management (IRRM) programme and sharing relevant information.
The following are objectives outlined for the purpose of this paper.
1. Present the status of the communities in the four atolls (Vaavu, Meemu, Faafu and Dhaalu), in relation to the reef fish fishery, bait fish fishery, coral mining, and tourism/fishery interactions - four major issues associated with the integrated management of reef resources.
2. Identify the communities’ perceptions and problems associated with those major issues.
3. In light of the status, perceptions, and problems of the communities and also in view of experience related to development programmes, provide options for community participation in the management of reef resources.
We obtained information on island communities through local administrations. This was done for a number of reasons. First, it is the administrators and community leaders in those institutions who would eventually play a major role in managing the resource. Secondly, in contrast to the individual person such institutions are in a position to grasp the overall picture in relation to those issues.
The scope of the paper is also restrained as a result of the limited time available to undertake an in-depth study. In the discussions on the status of the communities we have limited ourselves to a broad based discussion of those major issues identified above. It is assumed that the relevant sectoral agencies directly responsible for each issue would be addressing these issues through more in-depth studies.
A basic interviewing methodology using structured telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews was adopted to study these issues. In addition, we used some secondary sources of data in writing this paper. This includes literature on fisheries and tourism and reports and appraisals concerning implementation of community-based management programmes.
This paper will firstly describe the characteristics of the issues of the reef fish fishery, bait fishery, coral mining, fishery and tourism interactions, and management of these issues. Next, it presents the status of the communities and their perceptions and problems in relation to these issues. As part of these discussions, the paper will identify some implications for each of the major four issues. This will be followed by a conclusion and recommendations on approaches to address the issues.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ISSUES
The issues such as coral mining, reef fish fishery, baitfishery, and fishery and tourism interactions vary in the degree of importance in the four respective atolls. These are activities related to the livelihood of island communities.
Fishing is a major occupation and its products are the main sources of protein. Communities are attracted towards some types of reef fish fishery partly because it fetches high profits. Tourism is also a major economic activity which directly and indirectly affects these communities.
One important characteristic of these issues is that they are interrelated. Coral mining and certain types of reef fish fisheries are believed to have an adverse effect on baitfishery and tourism activities. This gives rise to conflict of interests within fisheries and between fisheries and tourism. However, fisheries can also complement tourism.
The use of reef resources is often not effectively controlled and therefore, tend to be over-exploited. This has serious implications to the existence of delicate reefs and their environments. Impacts of coral mining in the past are now visible from the erosion of the islands and depletion of marine resources.
STATUS OF THE COMMUNITIES, THEIR PERCEPTIONS AND PROBLEMS
This paper describes the perceptions of the communities in the eyes of the atoll and island administrators. The study is not based on statistical analysis, but on the perceptions of the communities with regard to these issues and as such what the community perceives (as related by interviewees) may or may not conform with the facts. If any such difference is identified, this implies the need to carry out information campaigns. They can serve as valuable feedback that can be used in devising programmes and methods for their implementation.
This is one of our expectations from the workshop, that is to find how much community perceptions vary from facts that would hopefully be provided by other workshop participants directly involved in Fishery and Tourism.
Although the atolls are widely classified as having a certain major occupation, this is not likely to be true for individual islands.
The following illustrates the perceptions and problems of communities in relation to baitfishery, reef fish fishery, coral mining, and tourism and fishery interactions. The suggestions mentioned on the management of reef resources is included as well.
Baitfishery for Tuna Pole and Line Fishery
The main occupation in Meemu Atoll has historically been tuna fishery and still remains so today. Some fishing communities in Meemu Atoll are concerned over the scarcity of baitfish. They attribute this to over-exploitation of other reef resources such as groupers and coral mining. This is an indication of potential conflict of interests among different types of fishery. The main baitfishery locations used by fishing groups from the atoll are also used by those from Thaa Atoll.
In Dhaalu Atoll too, tuna fishery is the main occupation. There are over 150 major locations used for baitfishery which are also used by people from Thaa Atoll. Here too, some island communities have noted scarcity of baitfish which they also attribute to grouper fishery as is the case in Meemu Atoll. In addition, some have noted that schools of baitfish are becoming more and more unstable and “wilder” as a result of changes in the method of catching them. That is, fisherfolk now dive with nets to catch baitfish.
In Faafu Atoll tuna fishery is the second major occupation. Here, in the atoll there are 10-15 major baitfishery locations which are also shared with fishing groups from Dhaalu Atoll. Some communities believe that schools of baitfish are moving into deeper locations as a result of the grouper fishery.
In Vaavu Atoll tuna fishery is limited and is affected by tourism activities. The 12 registered fishing vessels are mainly used for reef fish fishery. Fishing groups from elsewhere come here for the baitfishery. Fishing communities from three of the five inhabited islands believe that the baitfishery resource is being depleted.
Implications and Sub-issues
From the above illustration of status of communities and their perceptions and problems in relation to baitfishery the following implications are identifiable.
1. Sharing of resources
In a situation where communities have identified scarcity of a resource, the sharing of it with fishing groups from elsewhere may become a major issue in the future. The existing social customs and regulations in most of the atolls do not limit access to the fishery. Atoll residents are not restricted to fishing within their atoll. The question therefore remains, is there a need to impose such limitations now? It is time to think about this and avoid future conflicts. Similar problems in relation to reef fish fishery have been experienced in Vaavu Atoll. These will be explained later.
2. Potential conflicts among different types of fishery
Since grouper fishery are believed to affect baitfishery there seems to be conflict of interests between these two types of fishery. However, the situation is not so bad as it may appear to be as fisherfolk engaged in both types of fishery can be the same. For example, in Meemu Atoll the same fishing groups from Maduvvari and Dhiggaru engage in both reef fish fishery and tuna fishery. When tuna fishery is low fisherfolk shift to reef fish fishery. As such, the reef fish fishery is often a seasonal activity.
3. Effects of changes in the methods of fishery
Diving with nets to catch baitfish is more frequently done now, and this is believed to frighten schools of such fish. This may be because it is the natural instinct of small baitfish to flee from large creatures including humans. With the increased presence of people, schools of baitfish may frequently be on the move rather than being stationary. Perhaps this is why it is difficult to catch baitfish, as stated by one interviewee.
Reef Fish Fishery
This fishery is considered as the second major occupation in Vaavu Atoll, and provides employment for some 250 people. It is an important source of income and therefore, the number of undertakings for this activity have been increasing. Reef resources of the atoll are also being used by people from elsewhere, which is a serious issue. Communities believe that the stocks of reef fish, and especially groupers, are decreasing. Compared to those in the other three atolls, communities here are more concerned over these issues.
The reef fish fishery in Meemu atoll is substantially undertaken by fishing groups of three island communities - Dhiggaru, Maduvvari and Mulaku. It is difficult to say that reef fish fishery is an important occupation - except in these three islands. This is because some communities in Meemu are said to believe that reef fishery does not have as much potential as tuna fishery. They do not engage in this as a full-time activity. Even in Dhiggaru and Maduvvari fisherfolk go for reef fish fishery when tuna fishery is seasonally low. Although not a full-time activity, reef fish fishery is an important source of income. This is because some types of reef fish can fetch higher prices. Fishing groups from Faafu and Dhaalu sometimes fish in Meemu Atoll.
Communities in Meemu Atoll believe that the reef fish fishery damages the reefs and their environment and that it reduces the baitfishery.
This is the major occupation in Faafu atoll with a fishing fleet of 40-50 vessels, each having 5-7 crews. The number of undertakings for this activity have increased lately. Fishing groups from Meemu, Faafu, Vaavu, Thaa, and Malé Atoll are known to fish from here. Communities in Faafu Atoll are well aware of a decline in certain types of reef resources, particularly groupers.
In Dhaalu Atoll, the reef fish fishery is generally considered as the second major occupation and as such it is an important source of income. In fact, it is the main occupation in some of the islands. Few vessels from Meemu and Faafu occasionally come here for fishing. Although the fishing community here is well aware of the depletion of the resource, people are still attracted towards its potential high profits.
Implications and Sub-issues
The implications of the reef fish fishery are similar to those identified for the baitfishery. This includes sharing of reef resources and potential conflicts among different types of fishery. Sharing of reef resources is a major issue in Vaavu Atoll where conflicts arise not only within the fishery, but between fisheries, coral mining and tourism.
Further explanations of these sub-issues are as follows:
1. Sharing of resources.
Although the atoll communities have no problems in sharing tuna fishery, the same may not be true for the reef fish fishery. Communities in one atoll do not voice reservations about others fishing in their atolls.. This is not true for Vaavu. The issue is complicated in this atoll as fishing groups from other atolls not only over-exploit reef resources, but are also reported to vandalise other resources of the atoll. There are also reported cases of confrontation between fishing groups from different atolls.
2. Potential conflicts.
As noted earlier, the over-exploitation of groupers is believed to affect baitfishery. This also creates social problems among fishing groups from different atolls.
Similar to the other three atolls, the communities in Faafu mine coral for personal use. They are aware that coral mining damages reefs and their environment and affects the baitfishery. Coral mining is decreasing with the introduction of bricks and cement as alternative building materials.
In Dhaalu it is the same story. Communities are aware that coral mining causes island erosion and creates problems for the baitfishery. In addition, they also believe it is a laborious activity. However, communities still mine it as they believe coral is the cheapest building material for which most people have easy access. One of the causes of the problem is the demand for infrastructure development. According to one respondent from the atoll office the extent of coral mining in the atoll is not as extensive as it was a few years ago. However, one island administrator believes that the extent of coral mining is higher in the island as there is increased demand for housing.
It is difficult to say whether the extent of coral mining in Meemu has changed lately. With the introduction of cement and bricks as alternative building materials the use of coral would have been reduced. This is because people now use cement as a building material instead of lime. On the other hand, people believe that the available bricks are of poor quality and as such they prefer coral. In addition, some infrastructure such as “breakwaters” require coral for their construction as there is no other suitable material. For these reasons the extent of coral mining would have increased in the case of some island communities.
The communities are well-aware of the negative effects of coral mining on the environment. Many of them are also known to be aware that it creates problems for reef fish fishery and baitfishery.
In Vaavu Atoll the extent of coral mining has decreased lately; this may be due to the use of bricks for construction.
Sub-issues and Implications
1. Factors contributing to the issue: Population growth as a factor is more obvious in the case of coral mining. As implied in the above description there is increasing need for infrastructure that can be attributed to population growth and development. Although home-reefs are protected by present regulations, mining still damages distant reefs. This means that a comprehensive management programme for the reef resource should consider the factors of population growth and sustainable development.
2. Finding suitable alternatives. Another observation on coral mining is about community beliefs on the suitability of bricks as an appropriate alternative to corals. Although bricks and cement are being used for building purposes, the extent and popularity of bricks are not as high as one would like it to be. There are reasons for this. Firstly, many communities believe that the available bricks are of low quality. Secondly, some communities have voiced concern over the difficulty of transporting construction materials from Malé. Transportation is one of the major factors hindering development activities in the country.
However, it is still possible to address the problem by producing better quality bricks.
Tourism and Fishery Interactions
Since Faafu, Dhaalu and Meemu do not have tourist resorts, issues on the interactions between tourism and fishery are not visible in these atolls. However, this is not so in Vaavu where there are two resort islands. For this reason the discussions on fishery and tourism interactions are confined to Vaavu.
Many of the reefs in Vaavu are used for both fishing and diving - giving rise to conflicts. Tourists dive to see reef fish and other resources of the reef. However, fishing may deprive the reefs of such varieties. Sometimes fishing results in making good diving spots obsolete. For example, shark observation is a major attraction for the tourists, and the shark fishery has severely reduced the shark population in the reefs.
The situation is further complicated as the reef fish fishery in Vaavu involves fishing groups from outside the atoll. As explained earlier, this is a major issue in this atoll. It was reported that fishing groups from elsewhere have been engaging in the shark fishery in areas close to resorts. Tourists have also complained about this.
However, the reef fish fishery can be complementary to tourism. Some communities in Vaavu engage in reef fish fishery to cater to the tourist industry. Night-fishing is also a major activity enjoyed by tourists. This indicates that it is the over-exploitation of certain types of resources in areas used for diving, that often give rise to conflicts.
Conflicts between fisheries and tourism are difficult issues to solve as reef resources are important for both fishery and tourism - two major economic activities of the country. Reef fish fishery is the second major occupation of communities in Vaavu Atoll. The communities think that diving and fishery locations should be identified and both types of activities should be confined to those allocated areas.
Management of Reef Resources
The existing situation as described by those interviewed is that there is no comprehensive programme for the management of reef resources. Communities as well as their administrators are said to have concerns over the depletion of certain reef species. They are also aware of and are concerned with the effects of coral mining.
Regulations on the use of reef resources are difficult to enforce as a result of lack of personnel and facilities.
In view of the existing situation, atoll and island administrations propose the following measures as part of management of reef resources. This includes suggestions to control over- exploitation of those resources, defining roles for all parties who are involved with reef resources, and improving the capacity of institutions in the atolls.
1. Control Over-exploitation of Reef Resources
The following are suggestions to control over-exploitation of reef resources.
A. Allocate certain locations for the fisheries within the atolls. In addition, some of the islands and atolls recommend to specify a number of areas and allow the fishery in each area only in different seasons.
B. Define sizes offish that can be harvested considering the type of species that are being over-exploited.
C. Limit export quotas.
D. Define the quantity of catch and or resource per person or party. The Atolls Development Advisory Board is in the process of formulating appropriate regulations on the use of coral in the construction of boundary walls. There is a range of suggestions for the purpose.
E. Temporary ban on certain types of fishery and or resource exploitation to revive the resources.
F. Confine the use of reef resources within an atoll only to its resident communities which is suggested by Vaavu Atoll.
G. Explore alternatives including mariculture and fish farming.
2. Specify Roles
The government departments in Malé should plan and formulate a management programme and appropriate regulations, with the cooperation and consultation of the atoll and island institutions. In the same manner, these authorities should also define roles for atoll and island institutions. Once such roles are formulated atoll offices should play a central role to ensure that the responsible parties effectively perform their roles and activities. Such a monitoring role by atoll offices is appropriate in view of their position in the existing administrative structure of the atolls.
3. Improving the capacity of local institutions.
One of the problems identified with enforcing regulations on the use of reef resources is the lack of capacity in atoll and island offices. A number of administrations in the atolls have raised concern over the lack of adequate and trained personnel as well as necessary facilities that are required to effectively monitor the resources.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON APPROACHES TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES
The following recommendations are made from the limited research done on the major issues:
1. Directly involve local institutions in the management of reef resources.
2. Improve efforts to control population growth and population concentration in one location, in order to find appropriate solutions to these issues. An increase in the population or rapid development puts more pressure on the reef resources.
3. Improve the capacity and capability of island and atoll administrations.
4. Strengthen the legal and regulatory framework to limit over-exploitation of resources and to avoid future conflicts as experienced in Vaavu.
5. Take steps to initiate and or accelerate fanning of reef species.
6. Enable access to more quality bricks and promote them as appropriate alternative building material.
Island communities are aware of the depletion of reef resources and see the need to sustain them. There are no suitable alternatives for coral as a building material. Over-exploitation of reef fish fishery resources must be controlled by means of stringent regulations. Period ban should be imposed on over-exploited species such as groupers and sea-cucumber for their revival. More reefs need to be established as marine reserves, for the purpose of regeneration of corals and baitfish.
This can be complemented with coral culture. Regeneration can be applied to home reefs as well.
Future extension of tourism into other atolls should consider interactions with fishery and settle any likely conflicts in sharing the reef resources. Population pressure should be distributed equally, to avoid over-dependence on a reef resource in one area.
Hameed A., Whiltlock R.E., Nott, A. G, (1985) End of Project Evaluation Report: Raa Atoll Integrated Development Project, Malé: IHAP
International Labour Organisation (1995) Mid-Term In-depth Evaluation: Nilandhe Integrated Atoll Development Project, New Delhi: ILO
Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (1991) Status and Needs of Fisher folk: Vaavu, Meemu & Faafu Atolls, Maldives, Madras: BOBP Programme
Ministry of Planning Human Resources and Environment (1993) National Development Plan 1993- 1996, Malé: MPHRE
Sekaran, U. (1992) Research Methods for Business, A Skill building Approach, second edition, Brisbane: John Wiley & Sons Inc.