(Web Desk) – July 14 celebrates Shark Awareness Day to highlight the danger of extinction and damage to their habitat due to threats of trade and hunting.
WWF-Pakistan is struggling to have a ban imposed on drift fishing.
According to a WWF-Pakistan, sharks are threatened with extinction and their habitat is now limited to a few places, one of which is the Arabian Sea section of Pakistan. Shark Awareness Day is celebrated to educate fishermen and traders about the threats of extinction faced by these endangered marine species.
Shark and ray trade is popular in the local market in Pakistan and fetch a high price, and also used for exports. The meat of sharks is often disguised as finger fish, fish flake form, or even whitefish. Other derivatives are used for different purposes, e.g. liver oil and cartilage for local medicines, and teeth or jaws in making weapons, jewellery or souvenirs.
One of the major manmade threats to sharks are gigantic drift nets also known as ‘walls of death’. In Pakistan, sharks have been so heavily fished in the past that stocks are destroyed.
Pakistan has a rich and varied shark and ray fauna, which in the past was targeted through gillnet fisheries. At present, however, there are almost 700 gillnet vessels targeting tuna fisheries and remain the primary gear responsible for the majority of shark and ray catches in Pakistan and the region. This has led to Pakistan being among the world’s top 10 countries for landing and, consequently, involved in trade of sharks and rays.
Recent reports suggest that there has been an 80% decrease in the number of sharks and rays landed from 1999 – 2011 mainly owing to depletion in their stocks due to overharvesting.