Fishermen demand Shiyam’s resignation as talks fail to make headway

Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam is surrounded by striking fishermen at the Kooddoo Fisheries Complex on February 18, 2024.

The dozens of fishermen striking in GA. Kooddoo over the delay in payments from Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) demanded Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam’s resignation on Sunday, after he went to the island to meet them in a bid to relieve tensions.

Shiyam told the fishermen that the MVR 280 million in outstanding payments will be cleared by March 5. However, the fishermen believe its too late, and are demanding they get paid sooner.

A video where the fishermen demand Shiyam’s resignation has gone viral on social media.

“Pay fishermen our money! Shiyam must resign! Arrest Shiyam!” one of the fishermen can be heard shouting in the video.

One of the striking fishermen told Sun that they are fighting for their right.

“We are not here to create a disturbance. We are here to get our rightful payment. We are so heavy in debt that we are unable to look after our wives and children,” he said.

“I have 27 crew members to look after. We haven’t been paid in two months. We have MVR 2.3 million owed to us.”

He said that fishermen cannot afford to wait until March 5 for their payment, adding that the outstanding dues will only continue to increase.

“They are giving just MVR 80 million when they do disburse the payments. Given all the fishing boats in this country, a single boat is getting the pay for just one day’s catch,” he said.

He said that the fishermen continued to be engaged in talks with Shiyam.

Shiyam previously said that the current administration had disbursed MVR 422 million in outstanding payments to fishermen so far. Noting the recent decision to set the minimum purchase rate at MVR 20, Shiyam said that the MVR 26 million owed for fish purchase since then will be disbursed by MIFCO within this week.