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Tuesday May 24, 2022

Endangered whale shark ‘caught illegally’ by fishermen

WWF-Pakistan techncial advisor says it was an illegal activity where these fishermen hunted this extremely endangered fish, brought it to the jetty and also sold it against the laws

April 29, 2022

Fishermen in Ibrahim Hyderi on Thursday brought to the shore an illegally caught whale shark, an endangered species under the Red List, in violation of the Sindh and Balochistan fisheries laws, and sold it to a poultry feed factory, officials and fishermen said.

According to Kamal Shah, who heads the Coastal Media Centre of the Fisherfolk Forum, a 20-foot-long whale shark was brought to the shore by local fishermen after it was found dead at sea.

“Apparently, this whale shark, which had got injured after being hit by some vessel in the open sea, died and local fishermen brought it to the jetty and sold it to a local factory owner,” he said.

But the technical advisor of the WWF-Pakistan, Dr Moazam Khan, refuted the claim of the Fisherfolk Forum representative, saying it was an illegal activity where these fishermen hunted this extremely endangered fish, brought it to the jetty and also sold it against the laws.

“Its hunting, marketing and trade is banned under the Sindh and Balochistan Fisheries laws. There is need to create awareness among the fishermen about the importance of this fish. It breeds in Pakistan mainly around the Churna Island,” Dr Khan said, adding that it was a whale shark, which was the largest fish found in the world. He said Pakistan used to have aimed fisheries prior to 1970 when fishermen used to kill this harmless species for its liver oil to smear the hulls of their boats.

“The killing of this fish by fishermen is extremely sad and they have to be punished under law,” Dr Khan said, adding that the whale shark is a migratory species which travel great distances.

In India, it is given the same level of protection as given to the Royal Bengal tiger and Indian rhinoceros. It is considered globally endangered under the Red List. It can grow to 5.6 metres with a maximum weight of 30 tons and can live upto 80 years.

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