Local companies are always working to increase the participation of youth within the fisheries sector. One such company at the forefront of this effort is Ocean Hunters Private Limited, which was established 10 years ago. Speaking to Fishermens.mv Managing Director of Ocean Hunters Hassan Eman said it is their priority to encourage more youth to join the sector. Eeman said there are many youth working with the company, which began their work with yellowfin tuna fisheries using longline. He said they work closely with communities, even giving opportunity for previous juvenile delinquents, especially youth who had been involved in drugs before, to work on their longline fisheries vessels. But this program had to be cancelled following government policies to cease longline fisheries.
“This is the youngest factory owner now. I faced many challenges to get where I am. We used 18 boats for longline fishing in the country before, and there were one or more Maldivian youths on these boats. They were usually former delinquents. We helped integrate them back to community, gave them employment and way to respectfully earn.” Eman said.
Eman said that when the company started they did longline, and skipjack tuna fisheries. He said now they are involved in buying yellowfin tuna from fishermen and exporting it abroad.
“We participated in several tuna fair before. We did it since 2010. We did commercial longline fishing using vessels. We had our own fleet as well. And we bought fish from yellowfin tuna fishermen. Back then we would buy 20 to 30 tons of fish from fishermen.” Eman said.
Ocean Hunters’ team which has members below the age of 35 on average is working to take their fish processing plant to new heights. The company, which exports fish to America and Europe is now working to expand its export so European Union. Eman said they have requested for permit to export fish to EU. He added they are working to set up their factory to required standards for this operation. Amman said this would not only upgrade their standard, but bring more development to the Himmafushi area, where their factory is based. He noted they have started to dispense ice for fishermen as well. Ocean Hunters exported 371 tons of fish in 2018 while their exports were at 171 tons last year.
Either way, Ocean Hunters is a company that aspires to bring more youth into the fisheries sector and give them a platform to prosper within it.