Sunrise paints the skies with tints of rose and gold. Darker blues of early daylight silhouette the Dhoni . Nets are flung out Whether with trap, seines, hand or trawl lines as fishing is the mainstay of the traditional island life. Outside the atolls massive tuna catches, sharks, marlin, sailfish, and the famous Maldive skipjack are easily netted. Skipjack, both dried and frozen is famous Maldivian product. Known as "Maldive Fish" and is the main export of the country.
As with fishing boat building has been a craft native to the Maldives. Projects for protecting and maintaining this skill have been organised on a grand scale. Boat bulding training for young apprentices by expert carpenters is fully organised. The main site of boatbuilding is in Alifushi Raa Atoll. Boats crafted from timber take only 60 days to complete. With improved mechanisation of fishing vessels better fuel distribution, and the increased demand for the product, President Gayoom’s words ring true.
"Fishing is the lifeblood of our nation it is inborn. From the soil on which we live, to the sea around us, it remains an integral part of our existence. Fishing, and our country and its people, ate one and shall remain inseparable forever."
Nearing sunset, the shores of most islands become crowded, especially at the market area of Marine Drive, Male’. The fishermen are returning from the Indian Ocean waters, the only great sea whose currents reverse directions with the season. Rainbows of colourful fish are passed from dhonis to shore. For a moment light breaks through evening clouds, revealing a white tailed tropical bird perched on the rim of an old fishing vessel, riding waves made by the onslaught of the returning boats.
The market place is alive with activity. Office workers in white shirts and ties ride away guiding bicycles with one and holding skipjack in the other. Trolleys loaded with fresh tuna or skipjack move door to door sales. Newspaper lines the boot cars whose drivers have stopped off to make a seafood selection.
Fishing provides a sizeable proportion of the gross domestic product and job opportunities for the vast majority of the island population. With abundant sea resources, fish exports continue to grow. Multinational companies have shown a renewed interest in the Maldives fishing industry. Tons of fish are used domestically and not surprisingly, fish is the main source of protein for the inhabitants of the archipelago.
The State Trading Organisation had played a significant role in rebuilding the tuna cannery in the island of Felivaru. This new plant fully optimises the sea’s natural resources. The operation is truly a "boat to cannery" process with abundant fresh tuna caught and processed. This whole canning process takes only four days. A sophisticated quality control laboratory finds technicians and scientists using the latest equipment for research and quality control. The workers have modern, comfortable living quarters in one of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. Felivaru can boast of being the coldest place in all of the Maldives with an ice plant and cold storage installation which maintains a temperature of minus 25 degrees centigrade.
Tuna waste and residues are processed on location into fishmeal, an animal food supplement. The product provides an additional export and boosts the economy. Workers learn skills by using modern techniques and local fishermen have a ready market for their bountiful catches.
Big game fishing in Maldives depends on the weather condition and fishing location. To catch big game like sailfish, marlin, barracuda, yellowfish tuna, wahoo, swordfish and many other big fishes, outside the atoll morning time is suitable for fishing. Hire speedboat and latest fishing equipments from the resort or dive school in Maldives. Before going for big game fishing acquired information about protected marine areas and best fishing areas.
Night fishing in Maldives is the most famous type of fishing. You can catch snappers, emperors, barracuda, squirrel fish and jacks during night fishing. Amidst the sparkling breathtaking view, night fishing is a treat for fishing buffs. The government of Maldives strictly prohibits hunting of whales and dolphins and the use of harpoon guns. Though, fishing does not require expertise but one should be aware of the fishing norms in Maldives. During night fishing enjoy the rhythmic music of waves and gentle breeze amidst nature's splendor. Most of the resorts in Maldives organize night fishing and big game fishing trips for fishing aficionados.