KARACHI: Fisherman safely released a 7.5 feet juvenile whale shark caught in gillnet, Daily Times has learnt on Friday.
Fisherman Captain Ali Akbar along with his crew members and other local fishermen after finding the juvenile whale shark in their fishing net stopped their fishing and released back the shark into the Arabian Sea.
The fishermen were busy fishing about 2 kilometres north of Churna Island. This is not the first time that a whale shark was rescued by fishermen; however, their pups seldom survive during the entanglement or die even in the rescue process. According to Ali Akbar, the baby whale shark was entangled in the net placed for catching tuna in the waters. He informed that the crew members first tried to disentangle it inside waters but the animal did not show any body movement, hence, it was heaved on board. As it was freed from the net, the baby started to move slightly. Considering that the animal may still survive, captain immediately instructed the crew to safely release it back to waters. To the utter surprise and jubilation of the fishermen, the juvenile whale shark came to life and encircled the boat possibly thanking the fishermen before disappearing in the deep sea.
According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, a healthy population of whale sharks is reported from Pakistan coast.
Whale shark is considered as endangered according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list whereas it is included in Appendix-II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and has been proposed to be included in Appendix-I of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
While, Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes at WWF-Pakistan lauded the role Sindh and Balochistan Fisheries Departments who proactively legislated for protection of whale sharks in 2016. He said that this established a basis for taking action against the fishermen who deliberately catch whale shark or try to market it.
However, now with legislation in place the whale shark fishing is stopped altogether in both provinces. Rab also pointed out that since 2012 fishermen have safely released a large number of endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species which includes 61 whale sharks, 45 mobulids, 25 sunfish, 6 dolphins, 5 whales, 25 sea snakes, 5 masked boobies (seabirds) and thousands of marine turtles. 'On occasion of International Whale Shark Day which is observed on 30 August, the release of a juvenile whale shark in Pakistani waters will send a good message to the world', he added.
Published in Daily Times, August 19th 2017.