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Ensis Fisheries: Bringing Maldives tuna to the world

One company is looking to change the way consumers see fresh tuna.

Maldives tuna’s top chilled products exporter, Ensis Fisheries, has had the wind at its back and a growing demand. That demand prompted the group to invest in a new cannery in Hluhumale, next to the company’s current plant and strategically located between the airport and seaport.

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This special sponsored story is brought to you by Ensis Fisheries, the leading supplier of Maldives tuna.

The $15 million (€13.2 million) facility will produce a full line of skipjack and yellowfin tuna products, including whole tuna, H&G, chunks, steams, loins and cans.

The facility has 1,500 metric tons of cold storage capacity, and has full certifications, including BRC, halal, kosher, ISO 22000 and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Friend of the Sea (FoS) and Dolphin Safe chain of custodies.

Ensis Fisheries, part of the Ensis Group, was founded in 2002, and is proudly celebrating 15 years of success.

We asked Ensis Fisheries General Manager Hussain Afeef to tell us about the new factory, and how Maldives tuna is finding new markets around the world.

What makes Maldives tuna different?

​Well, pole and line and hand-line harvesting are the most unique and sustainable methods of harvesting. With excellent handling on-board and fast time to market, it’s also superior in quality.

Our artisanal fishermen have practiced sustainable fishing from the very beginning, and that’s kept the stocks healthy.

In addition, the freshness and quality of Maldives tuna is unbeatable. Buyers that come to know our tuna seek it out where they can.

How does the product get to market so quickly?

We make sure the tuna that has been cleared on daily landing would be processed and shipped out on the same day for customers to receive it on the following day, worldwide.

Maldivian fishermen would make an average of four fishing trips in a month and they spend only five to seven days on each trip on during average fishing season.

Our tuna by pole-and-line is also much better compared to that caught by purse seining, where struggling fish are kept alive for prolonged periods resulting in lower grade tuna.

How have Maldives fishermen integrated sustainability?

Maldivian fisheries are a very community supported activity which ensure the livelihood of our fishing communities and a sustainable source of income. The strong bond and honest communication created between exporters and fishermen in Maldives has helped them understands what end users need and considers the importance of having a healthy industry built upon good rapport.

We also rank in the top 10 fisheries in the Global Ocean Health Index, thanks to our continued efforts on sustainable fishing. It’s MSC-certified, Dolphin Safe, and we are a member of the International Pole and Line Federation.

Are you working on any sustainability or social projects?

Yes, we work very closely with the local communities, especially in supporting the fishing communities and the fishermen by providing them soft loans, chilling boxes for tuna and assistance with vessel maintenance and repairs. We also assist schools and community organizations with financial contributions and sponsorships and actively take part in private and government initiated social environmental projects. Currently we are working with NGOs' involved in Parley, for the Oceans in order to clean and collect plastics from our oceans and raise awareness.

Why are you making the investment in the new plant?

We want to introduce our canned tuna to the world. Having a cannery here at the source not only gives us full control but helps us ensure that quality standards are met throughout. It is sustainable and overall more economical than canning abroad, and helps us further preserve the integrity of the cold chain from harvest to end product and our customers.

Also, Ensis is trying to reduce the raw material export to overseas canneries and instead process Maldives tuna catch domestically, which will provide employment opportunities for locals and help pay a better price to local fisherman once we start supplying canned tuna direct to international market at a competitive price.

What major buyers companies serve Ensis’ tuna?

​Our customer base is broad. Ensis supplies to the distributors that serve leading supermarkets including Waitrose in the UK as well as restaurants and foodservice markets such as Rungis market in Paris.

Which are the key markets Ensis is targeting?

​Almost all the European destinations, which is our primary buyer, followed by the US and Asian market. China and Middle East markets have been developing as well.

What’s the biggest advantage Ensis offers its customers?

It would have to be our quality assurance and reliability in providing sustainably sourced fresh tuna. As many of our global customers have come to value -- we provide steady supply and consistency irrespective of price of raw materials.

Not to mention our logistical advantage -- being situated right next to both seaport and airport -- allows us to deliver the morning’s harvest today to anywhere in the world before evening tomorrow, and we have a time-honored mutually beneficial arrangement with all the major airlines to ensure this.

In addition, as we are the direct source manufacturer, our customers deal with us directly, not through any middlemen. We are also the first Maldivian fish export company that achieved BRC AA grade, and we are maintaining it for the second year in a row. Every tuna we sell can be traced back to its origin.

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