Fishermen have been paid MVR 276 million by the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO), Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Resources Ahmed Shiyam has said. The payment, however, only partially covers the dues owed over a period of two months.

While currently on an official visit to China, President Mohamed Muizzu told Maldivian media that his administration is working to pay all dues to the fishermen as soon as possible.

The state usually budgets money to fishermen, with MVR 250 million budgeted last year, however, with the change made to purchase prices, an additional MVR 250 million was required, Minister Shiyam said. The Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, during their last months in office, had raised the per kilo buying rate of skipjack tuna by 47 percent.

According to the Minister, while there still remains an outstanding, MVR 276 million has been paid out to fishermen since President Muizzu took office. The previous administration had last paid fishermen till November, up to the point the new Muizzu administration took office, and the administration has so far released dues owed till November 30, he said.

“The price of skipjack tuna, which used to be sold at MVR 17 [per kilo], had been changed to MVR 25. With this price change, the administration is in a very difficult situation and especially MIFCO cannot find ways to increase its revenue,” he said.

“If the price stays at MVR 25 [per kilo] next year, about MVR 1 billion should be given to the fishermen as subsidies,” the minister said, adding that it would be very difficult to do so without a way to increase revenue.

Meanwhile, several associations, as well as individuals, representing the fishermen have expressed concern on social media that they have not been paid in months. As a result, some boats have been stranded, brought on by a lack of operating expenses due to not being paid, the fishermen said.