The details surrounding the dead whale shark discovered on June 13 in Karachi’s Sonmiani Bay are hazy. The creature was found trapped in a gill net, dragged into the Karachi harbour, cut up and sold. Whether the creature was caught alive or dead is unverified, although according to fishermen, the species had died before being caught in the net. To date, there have been eight such whale sharks that have been caught in nets and killed, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P). This harmless marine animal — which has been listed as vulnerable by the WWF-P — has increasingly been exposed to fishermen’s nets in Pakistan’s waters. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has placed the whale shark on its red list of threatened species. Yet, the local community in both Sindh and Balochistan, does not seem to care.
It is a shame that compared with the local community’s apathy towards marine life, the international community has promptly taken notice of the state of endangerment of Karachi’s marine life. This is because there is very little regard by locals for the country’s marine life. Those who respect it would consider it a valuable asset to all that the country has to offer. Nonetheless, efforts for an awareness programme for fisherman on the importance of whale sharks must be welcomed in the hopes that they will become cognisant of how some of their actions, when they are out at sea, may have a negative long-term impact on marine life. They must ponder whether it is worth it to destroy Pakistan’s marine life for future generations for the benefit of a quick profit.
We must support the WWF-P in its efforts to implement stricter laws during fishing expeditions and protect not just whale sharks but all precious marine life. Even if hunting certain fish is allowed, there must be proper procedures in place for the sale of marine creatures. Otherwise, at this rate, we are warned that by the next decade, whale sharks might become extinct from Pakistan’s waters.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2013.
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