SUKKUR: A blind baby Indus dolphin was found dead near Zero Point, Sukkur, on Thursday.
According to wildlife officials, the dolphin had been entangled in a fishnet and died as it was not rescued by fishermen in time.
A team of the wildlife department and the World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF-P) rushed to the river embankment when they were informed and brought the dead mammal to the Dolphin Centre at Lab-e-Mehran, where a post-mortem was conducted.
Dolphin Conservation Centre, Sukkur, incharge Mir Akhtar Talpur said that the baby dolphin was female, weighed around 18 kilogrammes and was four feet long. He said that the body seemed at least 10 days old and the cause of its death was illegal fishing net, which is spread across the river, instead of spreading it at one side of the river.
Talpur said that, earlier, a few contractors were awarded licences to fish in specific areas and the government used to earn millions of rupees through the issuance of licences to them. But now anyone can get fishing licence for just Rs100, which is a wrong practice and should be stopped immediately to save the riverine life, he said. He added that the area between Guddu and Sukkur barrages is spread over 200 kilometres. “It is not possible for us to deploy our men at all the points,” he said. He appealed to the people to take good care of the riverine life, because it is in their own interest.
WWF-P, Sukkur, senior project officer Imran Malik agreed with Talpur and said that merciless fishing is causing harm to the riverine life. He said that despite launching awareness campaigns from time to time, it seems that people do not care at all about the riverine life. “The greedy fishermen add poisonous chemicals in the river to catch more fish in one go,” he said.
According to him, riverine life is already under threat due to the release of toxic waste and sewage in the river and canals, and the illegal fishing has further added to the problem. He said that, earlier, the fishermen used fishing nets with big holes to catch big fish alone and in this way the juvenile fish were spared. “But, today, the greedy fishermen are using fishing nets with smaller holes and, thus, causing harm to the juvenile fish,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.