Diving Operators and their staff must respect Fishers and their tools


Following recurrent complaints from Fishers all around the island and mainly in the north of the island these past months, it is my duty as President of the Technical Committee and as Mauritian to intervene towards all dive operators and diving staffs for better,  peaceful and respectful coexistence with fishermen.


Fishers have been complaining that since a few months and, almost a year now, their fish traps are being systematically destroyed, moved or looted, that, in places where fish trap are marked with buoys on the surface, the lines are cut or attached to the bottom.


We do not know if all these complaints are the acts of diving operation staff, but I am personally convinced that few of them, if not all, are definitely wicked deeds from divers. Many divers have witnessed some instructors or dive leaders breaking open the fish traps to free the fish form them. Some of them moved from their initial point so that the owner can no more find them.


We local instructors and sons of Mauritius must agree and recognise that fishers are people who work really hard and gain their livings in putting their lives at stake every single day. They never ask anything to anyone and live autonomously. They gain their lives looking for fish that we find on our table and in our hotels and restaurants. Some of them use fishing lines and other fish traps. These types of fishing are sustainable ways of fishing unlike gillnet fishing that targets and kills edible and non edible fish indiscriminately.


These fish trap specially targets one or two types of fish depending on the baits that are disposed in them.

A fisherman would take almost 2 week to manually weave a fish trap and almost a month work financial investment that would be equivalent to less than half day work for a diving operation.  


Because of the danger to navigation and theft, some traps are put in specific places known by the fisherman without any surface markings. He knows exactly where these fish traps are and recovers it after one to 3 days. Divers should know that a fish trap left on the ground without a line and a buoy to mark it, is NOT an abandoned trap!!!


If we eat fish, we must then accept that someone has to get it for us or our guests so we should not try to play superman underwater. Respect those who bring these fish to us!


If you think that the fish are too beautiful and too small, do know that the fish trap have a minimum legal size of mesh (4 inches diameter) that would allow small fish to escape. Sometimes tropical fish are trapped inside the trap and the fisherman always let them lose and alive if he does not eat them.


Divers MUST not tamper or destroy and move a fish trap. They should lead their divers away from a fish trap when they see one underwater either full of fish or empty. Every single day and even more at night hundreds of fish are being victims of natural predation by sharks, rays, dolphins , moray-eels , octopuses and so many other predators, this is the cycle of life.


Diving operators must act responsibly and brief their staff to respect the fishermen and their tools and stop dishonest staff from showing overzealous actions just to please the tourists. Both the operation and the person concerned are liable to sanction for the authorities, the diving operations may find their licenses removed by the TA and the criminal is liable as per the law.


What the laws of Mauritius say:


301 Larceny

Any person who fraudulently abstracts anything not belonging to himself shall commit larceny and be liable on conviction to imprisonment, and to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees.


349 Damaging public property, private enterprise or vehicle

Any person who wilfully destroys, reaks down, damages, or renders useless, by any means, in whole or in part, any building, bridge, ship, vessel, boat, bridge, dike, causeway or other erection, any public property, any engine, utensil, or any article used in the business of a country estate, or of a manufacture belonging to another person or any vehicle belonging to another person,


369 Damaging goods and chattels

Any person who, in any case not provided for by sections 346 to 368, causes any wilful damage to the goods and chattels of another person, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months and by a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees shall be punished by penal servitude not exceeding 10 years and by a fine not exceeding 3,000 rupees.


Not to forget that the victims can also claim damages and interests.


The coming New Year is the best time to take new resolutions, so let’s believe that divers and fishers will live and help each other in good respect for the years to come.

FaLang translation system by Faboba