KARACHI: Within a gap of just one week after the auction of whale shark at the Karachi Fish Harbour (KFH) in March, fishermen near Ormara waters in Gwadar have found another dead giant fish of the same family.
The discovery was made in the wee hours of March 30, when fishermen of ‘Al-Faheem’ boat found a giant whale shark in the nets. The team of 19 fishermen along with Nakhuda (captain) Saeed Zaman in tuna fishing boat engaged in an exercise for 90 minutes to release it.
Fishermen of Al-Faheem boat came to know a whale shark was in the nets. Soon, they realised that the fish was dead; thus the efforts began to release it, said Muhammad Moazzam Khan, a technical adviser at the Marine Fisheries World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P), while talking to Daily Times.
The release was captured on a video camera showing fishermen trying to free the giant fish. “The length of the specimen was said to be between 15 to 16 feet, weighing around three tonnes. The incident took place in the same waters of Ormara where three days before the day of the incident a giant whale shark of almost the same size and weight was caught, said Khan.
“We provide fishermen training and awareness regarding not killing a whale shark. In the process of training, we have provided four video cameras to fishermen to shoot such a scene and that worked that day,” said Khan, showing the particular video of the incident.
A week earlier, another whale shark was caught by anglers in the same waters and was later dragged to the KFH, chopped and sold.
Whale shark is considered the largest fish. In Pakistan, it was first reported in 1850, which is documented. The trend of organise fishing of whale shark continued till 1970s but afterwards it saw a decline.
There is no commercial viability in killing a whale shark, revealed Moazzam. “That is what we tell the fishermen. The same efforts could be utilised to catch other valuable fish.”
Once a whale shark was sold for about Rs 0.4 million. The last one, which was caught on March 27, was sold only for Rs 12,000. So fishermen now release the fish rather than catching them.
On February 7, 2012, a whale shark was caught by fishermen, which caught the attention of the local media to a major extent. After that, this media hype convinced other fishermen to catch more giant whale sharks.
During the last eight months – because of awareness provided by the WWF – five whale sharks were released alive by fishermen, because they now understand there it is not of any use, said Khan.
The training and awareness have put a positive impact on the fishermen. The incidents to release live whale sharks took place last year in May, September and December, while also in January and March this year.
Whale sharks are the largest fish found in the world. They are harmless to human. Locally known as ‘Andhi Mangar’ in Sindhi and ‘Baran’ in Balochi, whale sharks are found in tropical and warm waters of Pakistan. It is said that the largest verified specimen was caught on November 11, 1947 near Baba Island in Karachi.
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