Although Pakistan has no appeal for whale shark, its illegal export continues to Far Eastern countries from here. The marine experts have already warned the government of extinction of this aquatic animal. World-wide the 'Whale Shark Day' was observed on Friday to highlight risks to the endangered marine animal from its illegal trade. Convention on international trade of endangered species (Cites) has put whale shark in its Appendix II for being at serious risk of extinction, declaring its trade prohibited.
Experts say fisheries stakeholders and the government have to work jointly to protect the whale shark which stocks are falling from illegal trade. They say the fins of whale shark are exported illegally as Hong Kong and China have great appeal for the fish soup. In connection to 'Whale Shark Day', WWF-Pakistan and Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Karachi also organised a function on the subject: "whale shark: biology, fisheries interactions and conservation in Pakistan".
Experts from the institute and the Fund asked the government to step up efforts to ensure protection and conservation of the endangered species in the country's troubled seas. International 'Whale Shark Day' is observed on August 30, every year in different countries of the world to stress for protection to the marine animal. Director at WWF-Pakistan, Rab Nawaz called for an immediate inclusion of the endangered species in schedule-I of Wildlife Act of Sindh and Balochistan to ban its hunting, trade and utilisation in the country.
He pointed out that India has already included whale sharks in schedule-I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to ensure its protection on its seas, bringing hunting of the marine animal to a permanent end. Even the incidental catch of whale sharks in India has practically ended after the passage of the law, which ensured its growth at seas. He urged Pakistan to follow suit. Director, Institute of Marine Sciences, Dr Rashida Qari said the scientific study on whale sharks in Pakistan is scant, making it difficult for understanding the animal's distribution, abundance, biology and its breeding.