Story of Origin
Tuna fishing has been in Iliyas Mohamed's family for generations. The warm Indian Ocean brings schools of skipjack tuna year round to the waters surrounding his home island of L. Hithadhoo in The Maldives. Iliyas and the rest of the crew each use a pole with a single hook to catch the tuna at the surface, throwing the fish back over their heads and onto the deck of the ship. Because the schools stay close to the coral islands, Iliyas can spend time with the family he supports.
Most Maldivian islands, like Hithadhoo, are home to less than a thousand people. Tuna fishing is the main source of income on these remote islands.
Fishers head out at night to first collect bait fish needed to catch the tuna.
In the early hours, the dhonis move into the open ocean where the schools of tuna are feeding. Using the bait fish to attract them, the fishers catch Skipjack tuna one by one.
The bait fish are thrown into the water to attract the adult tuna.
Young Maldivian fishers practice with coconuts in order to perfect the motion of throwing a hooked tuna over their heads and onto the deck of the ship without hitting their friends.
After a day of fishing, the crew heads to a local island to sell their catch at Horizon Fisheries, a Maldivian owned fish processing company that employs over 600 staff.
Once on land, the tuna are quality checked, then cooked and cleaned by hand before being canned. The modern facility is suited to processing and packing high-grade tuna products and the entire process is subject to high standards of food safety and hygiene.
The pole and line fishing method has a long history in the Maldives. This fair trade project will help ensure it continues into the future!
Good to know
Using the pole and line method to catch skipjack tuna means that there is virtually no bycatch. By using a certain size of hook and type of bait, the Maldivian fishers can specifically target the fish they want. Larger types of tuna or sharks don't fit the hooks and so this type of fishing is considered one of the most sustainable.
The fishers in our Fair Trade USA Certified Maldivian skipjack pole and line fishery receive a premium for the fish they catch. This additional income is spent collectively on community projects and development. By ensuring the fishers benefit fairly from the fish they catch, their traditional methods are rewarded and encouraged to continue.
Our partner fish processing factory, Horizon Fisheries, prides itself on continuing a long tradition of fish processing in the archipelago. Its Fair Trade USA Certified factory employs around 525 employees that do everything from buying, cleaning, cooking, preparing, canning, packing, and shipping tuna to customers around the world. We have a long standing relationship with Horizon Fisheries and are proud to support the local community.