KARACHI: Fishermen successfully freed a three-meter bottlenose dolphin entangled in their net on Friday.
According to fisherman, Hasnat Khan, a large sized dolphin, locally called tushuk, was caught in gillnet placed for tuna. "The animal was struggling to escape from the net and crewmembers immediately stopped fishing operations. After a struggle of half an hour, we cut the net and safely rescued the dolphin," he said.
Although, dolphins are considered majestic animals and are one of the top predators in the oceanic ecosystem, they are extremely sensitive to entanglement in fishing nets. In such cases, they cannot surface to breath and thus drown and die. Hence, efforts to save and release such animals usually fail and animals do not survive.
Muhammad Moazzam Khan, technical adviser (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, said a large number of dolphins become entangled in gillnet fisheries throughout the world every year. "Since, these are considered sacred animals by fishermen, they do not kill them. However, incidental mortality is very high. Training provided to skippers aims to make all possible efforts to protect megafauna for instance, whales, dolphins, whale sharks, sunfishes, mobulid rays and turtles. Hundreds of these animals are safely released every year by these trained fishermen," he said.
Earlier, there were six records of the release of bottlenose dolphins by fishermen in recent years. Although the number seems small, it is a great success by fishermen. There are 22 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) found in Pakistan; of these bottlenose dolphins are the most common species. There are two species of bottlenose dolphins found in Pakistan including Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (tursiops aduncus), which is found mostly near the coast and the common bottlenose dolphin (tursiops truncatus), which is more oceanic in nature and massive in size, is found in offshore waters. Rab Nawaz, senior director programmes WWF-Pakistan, lauded the efforts of the fishermen in releasing the dolphin, stating that it was very rare that it survived entanglement. He further pointed that all cetaceans, including whales and dolphins, were declared protected species under the fisheries legislations of the governments of Sindh and Balochistan on May 18, 2016 and September 7, 2016, respectively.
Rab Nawaz stressed the need for effective implementation on the legislation, which he hoped would ensure protection of dolphins and whales in Pakistan.