Foreign vessels will be banned from fishing in Maldivian waters, one of the election pledges from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party in its manifesto.
The MDP, which has Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as its presidential candidate, promised to “transform” the country’s fishing industry and allow foreign boats to only purchase fish directly from local vessels rather than catch it themselves.
Fishing, while a small contributor to the economy compared to tourism, remains a vital source of income and employment for many Maldivians.
A fisheries ministry report published last October said hundreds of foreign fishing vessels were operating illegally in Maldivian seas every year.
The foreign boat ban is part of the MDP’s ‘blue economy’’ pledge, which aims to create an environmentally friendly economic strategy that will at the same time increase household income.
Water will be made accessible to all islands, waste will be turned into an income source and reef construction will be carried out.
The party also promises to strengthen the existing ferry network, so that atoll ferries are connected to airport islands.
Key pledges under the theme of ‘compassionate government’ – one of five focus areas in the 122-page manifesto published Saturday – include equal pay, six months paid maternity leave for new mothers and a higher education subsidy.
A pledge to ensure justice focuses on introducing a parliamentary system by amending the constitution before 2020. A unity government, formed by the opposition coalition, will ensure transitional justice for 18 months.
During this period, the government will review unfair trials, review civil cases concluded to harm or benefit certain people, probe human rights complaints, act against those who used undue influence, review contracts that are seen as not beneficial to the state and review laws that have been changed to target certain people.
The MDP also wants to allow foreign experts to work in Maldivian courts, in the same way that expat professionals are brought into develop the education and healthcare sectors.
The deputy leader of the ruling party criticized the MDP’s manifesto for being “loosely balanced.”
Abdul Raheem Abdulla, from the Progressive Party of Maldives, said the MDP was proposing a unity government because its leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed did not trust Solih.
However the manifesto from President Abdulla Yameen has yet to be revealed, despite his promise in May to unveil a “surprise” that would be “gifted” to the Maldivian people after Eid.
The Maldives celebrated Eid on June 15.