Karachi—Another 5-m long female whale shark was enmeshed by a shrimp trawler at Phor, Balochistan which was brought to Karachi Fish Harbour. WWF-Pakistan expressed great concern about entrapment of this whale shark which is considered to be endangered and its trade is restricted by CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species).
The Whale shark is found in tropical and subtropical waters of the world ocean. It is known from Pakistan since long, in fact the first account of their organized fishing anywhere in the world is from Pakistan. Luckily this fishery in Pakistan was practically stopped in early 1970’s.
Rab Nawaz, Director, WWF-Pakistan, stressed the need for immediate inclusion of this species in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Act of Sindh and Balochistan so that its enmeshing, trade and utilization in any form may be banned in Pakistan. India has already included whale sharks in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (under sub section (1) of section 61) on 28th May 2001.
Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries) of WWF Pakistan stressed the need for the protection of Whale sharks because the Northern Arabian Sea bordering the coast of Pakistan is one the world most important feeding, basking and breeding ground for the species. There are only a few places in the world where documented record of their breeding is available including Pakistan and India.
Legally, the international trade of Whale shark is restricted because this species is included in the Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). Although Whale shark is not consumed in Pakistan, it meat is used for fish meal, liver is used for extraction of oil for smearing the hull of fishing vessels to keep it smooth and fins are exported, though illegally, for shark fin soup to Hong Kong and China’, he added.
Umair Shahid, Coordinator, Smart Fishing Initiative/WWF - Pakistan stressed the need for closer collaboration between academia, conservation organizations and fishermen so as to work towards the conservation of threatened animal like Whale sharks.