The Maldivians are expert fishermen who are more than thankful to the great Indian Ocean for the blessing of aquatic abundance. Fishing is an integral part of the culture and economy of the Maldives. The land, rather, the waters are famous for their top catches, biodiversity, and iconic scenery which is sure to feed not just your mouth but also, your eyes.
The average elevation in the Maldives is just 5 feet, making the ocean an integral part of living here. It’s no surprise then that fishing is an important aspect of the local economy and culture. That, combined with the sheer variety of fish found here, all contribute to its reputation as one of the fishiest places on earth.
The Maldivian reefs host a variety of marine animals, such as snappers, groupers, emperors, reef jacks, and, of course, reef sharks. As you go deep into the vast ocean, you can find the most important fish for Maldivians, tuna. Skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna play an important role in the lives and livelihood of Maldivians. The giant Trevally also adds excitement to the already unbelievable lineup of fish as the Maldives are among the few places in the world where GT can be caught both on reefs and flats. Adding to the colorful environment are the non-invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, lobsters, giant clams, and black corals.
There are lots of fishing types one can learn and enjoy. Pole and line fishing and handline and longline fishing are the most traditional forms of fishing. These activities can be experienced in most resorts in the Maldives. Jigging and popping, the Maldives' most popular fishing methods, is one to not be missed out on. Big game or reef fishing, shore fishing, and night fishing are 3 of the most anticipated fishing excursions one can enjoy.
Fishing is surely one of the best events you can be on while in the Maldives. But like any other tourist destination, tight regulations are widely enforced to promote marine conservation. The first thing to take into account is where you’re fishing. Fishing reefs with “reserve” status is strictly prohibited, and this includes most resorts. You also aren’t allowed to fish the sandbars or coral reefs that make up the islands themselves. Most resorts have a blanket ban on shore fishing – unless you have explicit permission from hotel management.
Using fishing nets isn’t allowed over the reefs and spearfishing is prohibited across the country. In terms of fish species, fishing for all types of Sharks has been banned for over a decade. Likewise, Giant Trevally and Billfish are catch-and-release only most of the time.
This is a good rule of thumb to apply to everything you catch in the Maldives. If you don’t plan on eating it, just snap a great picture and release the fish back into the ocean. This will help ensure we can keep coming back to the stunning fishery for years to come.