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Shark hunting banned

THE Maldives imposed a total ban on hunting reef sharks yesterday in a move aimed at bolstering the tourism industry in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The Maldives' pristine coral reefs, with its exotic fish, has made it one of the world's top diving destinations.

The government said in a release that it hoped the shark ban would make the country a "shark safe haven."

Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Didi said the measure would ban all reef shark hunting within the Maldives' atolls and lagoons and in the waters up to 19 kilometers off the Maldivian coast.

Within a year, they hope to extend the ban to all the country's territorial waters, the minister said in the statement, adding that the move would pave the way for a complete ban on exporting all shark products.

"The protection measures announced today should lead to a recovery in shark numbers, providing a boon for both the environment and the tourism industry," Didi said.

Fishing is the Maldives second biggest industry after tourism, but only 180 of the country's 15,000 fishermen are believed to hunt sharks, according to the country's government.

The fisheries ministry will work to find new livelihoods for the shark hunters, the government said.

Sharks caught in the Maldives are exported abroad.


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