Islanders in a distant Maldivian atoll now benefit from a fish filleting platform installed to add value to the catch the fishermen bring.
200 kilometres north of the country’s capital island, Male, the N Maalhendhoo island is one of the 14 inhabited islands of the larger Noono Atoll that consists of 71 islands in all.
Unlike the other parts of Maldives, N. Maalhendhoo has more than just tuna fish. There are fusiliers and snappers too and island fishermen sell these fish to traders for very little money. The islanders always knew the trader’s excuses for not paying them enough were hollow, but there was very little they could do about it.
Subsistence in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean and the resource it had put to their disposal was ironical. All it needed was a little investment. This is where the bank of Maldives stepped in.
Bank of Maldives community fund
The community fund programme of the Bank of Maldives on Monday commissioned a fish filleting platform in N. Maalhendhoo implemented in the island by Maldivian NGO, Society for Leaders Initiate Development (SLID).
The space is designed to be used during the day and night with appropriate lighting to sort out and fillet the catch of fish that the fishermen bring. The workstations can accommodate eight people. It has storage unit and a supply of clean water and drainage to remove waste water. Dustbins have been placed in the area.
“The aim of the project was to find a solution for the difficulties that our fishermen faced. For the past years, we used the jetty at the harbour to carry out the filleting even in bad weather conditions,” a representative of the NGO said. “Through this project, we hope it benefits the islanders and the local fishermen to cut and sell fish in a more convenient manner.”
The commissioning of the platform was preceded by a fish cutting contest.
Resorts empty during COVID-19
Now, the approximately 700 fisher-folks living in the island of N. Maalhendhoo have a first sign of commercial activity in their community. The excitement is palpable.
All these years, young men and women from the island have had to look for work in the six resorts in the Atoll. There was very little work following the COVID-19 pandemic. The threat of the islands drowning with climate change has hindered any other infrastructure development in the atoll.
The community fund of the Bank of Maldives has so far supported 60 projects across the various atolls of the island nation.