Tropic tuna from a bounty-island

Facts & figures

Skipjack tuna
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2014
Mandhoo, Maldives
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Mandhoo

Mandhoo has the same white sandy beaches and palm trees like the bounty islands that the Maldives are known for. But expensive resorts, golf courses or honeymooners can’t be found here, because the island is all about fish. Tuna to be more exact. This is home to our skipjack tuna.

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On the Maldives the fish are part of the ecosystem; they do everything with the environment in the back of their mind. Worst case scenario, this unique group of islands will become one with the ocean in 30-40 years time due to global warming. So till that time, they fish consciously and with their own traditional methods. That’s made it possible for them to receive the first MSC-certification for skipjack tuna in the world.

Fishing method

The tuna fishermen in Mandhoo fish with a pole and line. One by one, fish by fish. When it’s time, the fishermen all stand on the back of the boat with their rod. Each caught tuna is swung to the back.

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The tuna fish is caught by putting the net over the full width of the boat. The good thing about this traditional method is that they only catch real tuna. There’s almost no by-catch nor environmental damage - and because many fishermen are needed for this method, it creates jobs and provides for the small coastal communities.

Tropic island group

The Maldives are a tropical island group in the Indian Ocean, just southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The islands are spread out over an area of 969,000 sq ft, while the land surface is only 3,229 sq ft. Of the 1190 islands, 200 are inhabited of which Mandhoo is one.

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Skipjack tuna

The skipjack tuna is the smallest tuna in the world, but it makes up for it in taste. It swims in large schools of about 50,000 tuna fish around the equator and is both a predatory fish as the favorite bite for large fish and sharks. On a global scale, most of the skipjack tuna ends up in tins. But don’t think that it under delivers in taste: the fish meat is firm, round and fatty.

‘If you live in harmony with nature, your catch will be abundant’

For tuna fisherman Zaky fish is not only a source of income, but also a daily meal. Before the boat ships out, the crew sit together and share dishes of which more than half has been prepared with tuna. Mas-uni, for example, a breakfast with tuna, coconut and lime. Zaky: ‘Add a piece of naan and you’ll have a great start to the day.’

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