Save Our Sharks Coalition

Formal Handover of Chairmanship Ceremony

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Republic of Maldives

18 September 2017

New York, New York


Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today.

Let me begin by thanking PEW charitable trusts for their presentation. I wish to take this opportunity to recognize and commend the efforts of PEW, working together with Governments, other organizations, and the scientific community for the protection and conservation of sharks.

I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for the leadership they have demonstrated as the Chair of the Coalition. The Maldives is pleased to be taking over the Chairmanship from such great advocate for sharks.

Maldives and the Bahamas have both long been advocates for strong protections of sharks. Like the Bahamas, shark fishing is banned in Maldives. This decision was taken by Maldives in 2010 and prohibits not only shark fishing but also the retaining of sharks in any fishery in our entire exclusive economic zone.

It is estimated that the global number of sharks killed every year is approximately 100 million. That equates to over 11,000 sharks slaughtered every hour. Sharks grow solely, mature late, have long reproductive cycles and have low reproductive output, all of which makes them highly susceptible to over fishing and depletion. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that a quarter of shark and ray species are threated with extinction.

As sharks play a critical role in marine ecosystems by ensuring populations of other fish remain in balance and as the Maldivian culture is highly intertwined with the ocean, it did not take long for Maldives to realize that measures to conserve sharks were going to be needed.

Socio-economic assessments carried out in the Maldives revealed it was more beneficial for the economy to preserve sharks and keep them as a continuous resource to be observed and enjoyed by tourists. Studies showed that a single shark left alive generated USD 33,000 annually, while when its harvested for its fin generated only USD 32.

The first limited measure was put into place in 1981. These measures evolved until Maldives decided to take the ultimate precautionary approach and enact the full ban on shark fishing in our EEZ in 2010.

Maldives is lucky to have an abundance of marine resources. These resources directly contribute to our two main economic drivers – fisheries and tourism. Healthy populations of tuna drive the fishing industry while a healthy marine environment overall is a major attraction of the tourism industry. Many tourists visiting the Maldives snorkel and scuba dive, including diving specifically to see sharks, during their time in our country. Thus, maintaining healthy marine resources and a healthy marine environment is critical for our economy.

Maldives is not only an advocate for sharks of Maldives, but throughout the world. Along with the former chair of the coalition Bahamas, we have been strong advocates for protections for sharks and rays at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In 2016, a proposal put forward by Maldives, Bahamas and others was adopted that gave new protections to help control the trade in silky and threshers sharks.

Maldives is honored to accept the Chair of the Shark Coalition. We look forward to using the voice of the Chair of the Coalition to build on the work of the Bahamas. We hope to bring even further attention to the plight of sharks around the world as well as to the steps that must be taken to ensure these critical members of our marine ecosystems are able to not only survive, but also to thrive.

Thank you very much.