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Two aspiring pole and line tuna fishers from the Maldives are putting their burgeoning skills to the test off the coast of the USA as part of a unique exchange.

Thanks to the support of the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) two MSC certified sustainable fisheries are learning from each other in a unique exchange.

Throughout September 2014, two aspiring pole and line skipjack tuna fishers from the Maldives are putting their burgeoning skills to the test off the coast of Washington State. Moosa Shahudan and Yaman Abdulla from the Fishermen’s Community and Training Centre (FCTC) are working with peers aboard the vessel Royal Dawn, part of the American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA).

Despite being more than 8,000 miles apart, the two fisheries share a very strong commitment to responsible management and both fish for tuna using pole and line.

The IPNLF’s Elizabeth Huxley-Jones has been in touch with Moosa and Yaman and updates us on the joys and trials of their trip.

Reading Moosa and Yaman’s update emails in London, it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride in their achievements. My mornings are truly brightened by their emails from on board the Royal Dawn. No more has this been true than when Moosa and Yaman messaged to say they caught their first albacore, which they describe as being completely different from skipjack.

“It’s very nice to catch an albacore for the first time but the sad story is that I got tired, and the crew said I still do not have the stamina or power to kill an albacore!” says their email. But within a day or so, they report catching twenty! Their stamina improves every day, and their enthusiasm and determination are driving them forward. “Sometimes the albacore wins, sometimes I win. It’s a kind of pretty little game, I think,” says Yaman.

Within four days, they report the hold is half full, fishing approximately 70 miles from Westport. When fishing for albacore, pole and line vessels tend to go out fishing for weeks at a time, until the hold is full. This is very different from the Maldivian style of skipjack fishing that Moosa and Yaman are used to, where trips may last one or two days.

But beyond the difference in the length of boat trips, Yaman reports that albacore really are a different species. “Previously, by looking at videos I thought catching albacore was very easy, like skipjack. But oh my gosh, big guys! Fatties!” At 1.4m long on average and weighing up to 60kg, albacore are much, much bigger than skipjack that reach a maximum of 35kg. Moosa and Yaman joke that they are getting fit from all the fishing.

Regarding the albacore, “we had a good fight, and there is still more to come – a fishing war!” laughs Yaman.

“We are really very proud to be the first fishermen from the Maldives who are experiencing albacore fishing through this exchange,” they report. “I wish I could do this till the end of this summer, and to be an American fisherman too, ha!”

Stay tuna’d for more and catch catch live updates from the trip on Twitter by following the hashtag #IPNLFvoyage.

More information Moosa and Yaman’s expedition.

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on the IPNLF website.