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Saturday July 13, 2024

Fisherman catches 18 high-prized large croakers at Gunz, Balochistan

The main reason for such high prices is the large swim bladder, commonly known as fish maws, which these species have for buoyancy and communication.

By M. Waqar Bhatti
May 18, 2022
Due to the high prices offered in the Chinese market and the availability of alternates for clarification, dried fish maws now end up only in the Chinese market. Pictures by reporter
Due to the high prices offered in the Chinese market and the availability of alternates for clarification, dried fish maws now end up only in the Chinese market. Pictures by reporter

KARACHI: A fishing boat operating in the offshore waters of Daran, Jiwani caught 18 large croakers (called Kir in Balochi) worth millions of rupees and landed at Gunz in Jiwani, Balochistan on May 15, 2022. The largest specimen among this lot fetched Rs. 500,000, whereas the smaller fish may get around Rs. 100,000.

Sajad Umer, the Nakhuda (captain) was jubilant at this catch, which was made through bottom-set gillnets and fetched a total of about Rs800,000 in a one-day expedition.

Spotted croakers and Japanese meagre are two species of large croakers found in Pakistan and have fetched very high prices to the tune of millions of rupees in the recent past. The main reason for such high prices is the large swim bladder, commonly known as fish maws, which these species have for buoyancy and communication.

This is used in making soups thought to ease pregnancy-related discomfort and cure joint pain, among other ailments, and as speculative investments. A single swim bladder could fetch as much as Rs. 50,00,000 per kg in Hong Kong or Guangzhou market.

In Pakistan, the large croaker used to be harvested for decades because of the high quality of its meat. The export of its swim bladder from Pakistan started about 170 years back when dried fish maws (also called isinglass) used to be exported to Europe for clarification of wine and beer.

However, due to the high prices offered in the Chinese market and the availability of alternates for clarification, dried fish maws now end up only in the Chinese market.

According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor, WWF-Pakistan, the large croakers are local migrants and form large spawning aggregations, locally known as “Aáranga” in Balochistan and “Pinn” in Sindh. He said that these aggregations were frequently observed in coastal waters off Jiwani, Gwadar, Ormara, Sonmiani Bay and off Indus Delta about 20 years back, however, now such aggregations are rarely observed in Pakistani waters.

Increased demand of fish maws in the Chinese markets has depleted the stocks of the large croaker globally and some species, such as yellow croakers in China and totoaba from Baja California are already depleted. Khan warned that the threat of depletion of the spotted croaker (Protonibea diacanthus) and Japanese meagre (Argyrosomus japonicas), inhabiting the waters of India, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, is increasing and unless adequate measures are taken, it is feared that large croakers may become locally extinct.

Sudheer Ahmed, Research Associate at WWF-Pakistan’s Information Centre at Jiwani informed that the occurrence of spawning aggregations is frequently reported from the Daran-Jiwani area since the last four years. Fishermen caught a number of large croakers from the area in 2019 and 2020.