Fishing is not only the lifeblood of the Maldivian economy; it is also a popular pastime among locals as well as visitors. Maldivians enjoy a variety of different types of fishing. The most popular among these in night fishing. The boat leaves the island and anchors at a reef before the sunsets and darkness sets in. the lines are tethered with hooks and sinkers and dropped overboard from both sides of the dhoni. If the fishing is good it gives a lot of excitements to everyone. If not it gives you an excellent opportunity to relax under the night sky as the boat gently rocks with the waves.
Morning fishing or big game fishing involves trolling, usually outside the atoll along the reef. Fishing enthusiasts may prefer to bring their own equipment if they wish to experience the excitement during their visit.Almost all the resorts organize night fishing trips at least once a week. Big game fishing or morning fishing, if not included in the resorts weekly program, may be organized on request.
In spite of the strong growth experienced in the tourism sector, fisheries still remain important to country's economy. The fisheries sector contributed around 10% to GDP in 1999 and employed 20% of the labor force. The economy of atolls outside the tourism zone depends totally on fisheries. The value of fish exports reach over US$ 50 million in 1997 and 1998, however the value of exports in 1999 was just below US$ 40 million. Fish exports comprise of frozen non-reef fish, mainly tuna, canned fish and dried fish. Non-reef frozen fish accounts for about 40% of total earnings from fish exports
Fishing provides the livelihood for many people in the Maldives. Fisheries sector is the second largest industry in the Maldives. It has an indirect link to tourism sector as resorts demand a constant supply of fish for their guest and employees.
Fishing in Maldives is still practiced using traditional techniques. Pole and lines are used for catching fish. This is believed to be a more sustainable and dolphin friendly method. Fisheries sector provides most of the employment for dispersed island communities. Most of the fishing boats are owned by local boat owners. Fishing is still largely practiced as a family business.
In fisheries sector fish processing and exporting to other countries is a vital part where large investment is required. Till 2000 government of Maldives had a tight control on the sector only MIFCO the government owned company was allowed to invest in fish processing and buying of fresh fish at large scale for export.
Since the sector was open for private investments few companies have started investing in this sector. Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources have separated the country into four different fishing zones. Ten year licences are been issued to the companies which had invested in these sector. At present the investment is mostly owned by local companies.
Yellow fin tuna fishery in exclusive economic zone of the country is open to foreign companies. Many foreign vessels under a licence, fish in the Maldivian water. Fisheries industry is a potential sector which can be explored for business ventures.