Since so much of their livelihood depends on fish stocks, Maldivians have developed strict fishing regulations that are widely enforced. Reef fishing is not allowed on reserves, with penalties from $500-$2000 to offenders. You might be thinking “What does this mean to me? I’ll just fish my resort’s house reef”.
The problem is that most resorts want to protect their house reefs, and have secured a status of ‘reserve’ for their house reef in order to protect it, so no shore fishing is allowed there, unless explicitly permitted by the resort management.
The inhabited islands (villages and towns) and remote, uninhabited islands are ok to fish.
This is an excerpt of the Maldivian fishing regulations that could be of interest to you: (You can read the entire document here)
- If the distance from the beach to the reef edge of the inhabited island is greater than 1000m, fishing beyond 700m boundary of the reef is open to all.
- Fishing from the reefs of a tourist resort shall only be carried out after obtaining permission from the tourist resort.
- Fishing from individual reefs that are not part of an island, or sand bank or any other dry area is permitted.
- Fishing other than by use of nets is permitted from the reefs of Male`.
The following activities are banned during fishing:
- Use of dynamite or any other explosive for fishing or killing of fishes
- Use of any kind of gun for fishing or killing of fishes.
- Use of any kind of poison for fishing or killing of fishes.
- Use of nets to catch Mushimas (mackerel) schools or small reef fish that are found in the lagoons of inhabited islands.
- Killing any form of sharks for any purpose is prohibited in Maldives. Now that you know the rules, let’s get to the fun part.
Types of fishing
Considering the immense biodiversity of the Indian Ocean, you never know what you can get. Nevertheless, here are the most common methods used to target popular species:
There are literally thousands of species you can hook into, from reef fish, to barracuda, bonefish, bream, small grouper, snapper and jacks/trevally. The most common methods are live bait fishing, fly fishing and beach casting.
The fish in these tropical waters are very strong, which is why we suggest using strong braided line and wire for lure fishing. Also, don’t use expensive lures as they will get destroyed or snagged on the coral within minutes. Snapper caught while shore fishingSnapper caught while shore fishing
You will go after similar species as with shore fishing, with the addition of tuna, large barracuda, red bass, amberjack, and his majesty, the GT. People book 7-day liveaboards just to have a go at landing a big GT. Heavy duty gear is needed to pull these beasts out. Black trevally caught on popperBlack trevally caught on popper
This is the main commercial method for reef fishing. Live bait, cut bait or deep drop jigging are popular. Red snappers, Groupers, Jacks, scarlet and job fish are the main targets, but breams, dog tooth, and yellow fin are also common. Typical species caught while bottom fishing near shoreTypical species caught while bottom fishing near shore
You will leave your resort at sun down and the Dhoni (boat type commonly used for night fishing) will anchor at the outskirts of your nearest atoll. Expect emperors, snappers, squirrelfish, mackerel species, jacks and other reef fish. Squirrelfish relative caught on lure while night fishingSquirrelfish relative caught on lure while night fishing