Divers in a fishing vessel
Divers in a fishing vessel

Guidelines should prioritize fishermen's safety!

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In recent days the publication of the “Fisheries Guidelines” in the government gazette has raised major concerns by those in the fishing industry. One of the main concerns relating to the guideline was the hefty penalties and fines which would be imposed on those who violate regulations. There is especial concern over the fact that the owner or head of the crew had to be responsible for any violation, including having to fulfil penalties and fines if any crew violated the guidelines.

This included the clause regarding a 100,000 Rufiyaa fine which would be imposed on the owner or head of the fishing vessel if a crew who does not have a diving certificate conducted a dive to catch bait or for other reasons. Furthermore captain or head of the vessel will also be given a penalty if the diving gear or equipment used in such instances are faulty or not up to standard as well. The clause stipulates that the captain or head of the vessel will have to take the responsibility in case a persons life is endangered due to such a violation.

In recent years bait fish has been usually caught through diving. This is especially common in Huvadhu Atoll or Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Bait fishery has recently been difficult, forcing fishermen to dive deeper for longer periods of time in order to catch a sufficient amount of bait. Desperate crews and fishermen have turned to diving deeper for longer to catch bait fish. But with the increase of this method in bait fishery many life threatening accidents have occurred. Crew and fishermen, and in some cases even captains have lost their lives or sustained permanent injuries which has rendered them disabled or with major health limitations or issues.

This is why it is imperative to follow set guidelines in diving. Safety standards and guidelines have to be followed thoroughly if attempting to go on deeper and longer dives for bait fisheries, in order to ensure safety of crew and fishermen. The guidelines demands vessel owners, or crew captains to ensure their divers have the required qualification and expertise if attempting to do bait fishery diving. The penalty and fine for non-compliance of these guidelines are strict as it involves the safety of those working in the fisheries sector.