WWF Pakistan launches programme to tackle ghost fishing
KARACHI: World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan has initiated a programme to tackle the threat posed by ghost fishing considering it to be becoming a serious issue in Pakistan.
It observed that various types of fishing gears were being used in Pakistan. Sometimes a part of the net is accidentally detached and continues to drift or become entangled in stones and reefs on the bottom of the sea. Since most of these nets are made of nylon and derivatives, therefore, these do not get degraded. Such lost or abandoned fishing gear continue to trap animals, entangle and kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Such derelict fishing implements are known as ghost fishing gear.
The menace of ghost fishing gears is also becoming serious in Pakistan since the use of monofilament net for catching sardines and Indian mackerel has increased as has the incidences of ghost fishing. These nets are delicate therefore, easily get detached and continue ghost fishing for very long period. Fishermen are now increasingly concerned about such ghost gears and consider it to be responsible for decrease in catching lobsters and other bottom dwelling species.
WWF-Pakistan, considering ghost fishing to be a serious threats to marine life, decided to initiate a programme for removal and save disposal of such nets. In this context, fishermen have been trained to safely release any entangled animal and recover the net for later disposal. In this context, WWF-Pakistan is collaborating with the Olive Ridley project, which was established to actively tackle ghost nets in the Indian Ocean. Staff of the project visited Pakistan in October, and conducted initial survey, which revealed that ghost fishing has become a serious threat for marine life, especially in sensitive marine habitat of Churna Island.
On December 9, one of the trained fishermen Noor Khan, located a ghost net about 83-km southwest of Karachi, in which an olive ridley turtle was entangled and struggling to free itself. Noor Khan stopped the fishing operation, retrieved the net using a grapnel and carefully released the enmeshed olive ridley turtle. The net was retained by the fishermen on-board, which will be brought to WWF-Office upon culmination of the fishing trip for later disposal.
WWF Marine Fisheries Technical Adviser Muhammad Moazzam Khan appealed to fishermen, divers and picnickers to remove any derelict ghost nets, if they see one of the beaches and underwater habitat. He pointed out that even a derelict hand line can mortally entangle endangered animals. A number of marine turtles have been reported from Churna Island that have entangled and died in the fishing.