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Tuesday May 21, 2024

Pingers a nice solution to conserve endangered dolphins

By Our Correspondent
March 29, 2024
A representational image of a dolphin. — AFP/File
A representational image of a dolphin. — AFP/File

LAHORE: “Deployment of pingers, sound producing devices, is a potential solution to reduce the entanglement of the Indus river dolphins in the fishing nets. This technology can help conserve endangered river dolphins and promote sustainable fishing.”

This was stated by researchers during the knowledge sharing workshop titled ‘Testing Pingers for River Dolphins and Fishers’ held in provincial capital here on Thursday.

This project has conducted experiments for the first time in Pakistan to assess effectiveness of pingers, a novel acoustic devices to reduce interaction of Indus river dolphin with the fishing nets. The project has been supported by the Darwin Innovation Fund and is implemented by WWF-Pakistan along the Indus river.

Through this project, trials of three different types of acoustic deterrents known as pinger were carried out in selected habitats within the Indus river on the fishing nets in Sindh and Punjab. The results based on the experiments conducted during the two fishing seasons indicated that pingers help to reduce dolphin’s interaction with the fishing nets and resultant bycatch related threats to dolphins.

Addressing the workshop, Asia Lead for Global River Dolphin Rivers Initiative Dr Uzma Khan said that sound producing pinger devices are effective in deterring the Indus river dolphins from the fishing nets. Dr Khan further said that dolphin entanglement is one of the major causes of mortality of these freshwater cetaceans in Indus waters where fish catch is the prime source of sustenance for fishers. She also mentioned similar studies that have been carried out in other Asian countries that host river dolphins and the results are promising.

Wildlife & Fisheries Department, South Punjab DG Dr Anser Mahmood Chattha called for the studies to be conducted on a larger scale to check for any variation in results linked to temporal and spatial factors, which will offer strong evidence of using the pingers as potential solution to address the mortality issues.

The Indus river dolphin is one of the world's rarest mammals and the second most endangered freshwater river dolphin. It is one of the flagship species, which is only found in Pakistan and is an indicator of the biological health of the aquatic and terrestrial environment adjoining the Indus River.

However, the population of this species confronts various threats, including entanglements in fishing nets, water pollution, poaching, fragmentation of habitat due to barrages and dolphin strandings in the irrigation canals.