WWF-Pakistan lauds Sindh and Balochistan governments for enacting new legislation for conservation of threatened marine species
Karachi,WWF-Pakistan welcomed the move by the governments of Sindh and Balochistan to enact legislation to ban catching, retention, marketing and trade of threatened, protected and endangered species including sawfishes, important sharks,mobulid rays, guitar fishes, dolphins, whales and marine turtles. The notifications issued separately on 18 May and 8 September 2016 by Sindh and Balochistan governments respectively mentioned the amendments made in the Sindh Fisheries Ordinance 1980 and Balochistan Sea Fisheries Rules 1971. WWF-Pakistan lauded the efforts of departments for this important initiative which will help the conservation of threatened marine resources in the coastal and offshore waters of Pakistan. This notifications will inter alia cover species of whale sharks, silky shark, oceanic whitetip shark, thresher sharks, and hammerhead sharks that are protected under various international legislations and agreements. Similarly, mobulids and sawfishes which are the most threatened of all the shark and ray families are also covered under these legislations.
A few countries in the world are considering banning the catch of guitar fishes and wedge fishes. According to researchers these are the 6th and 3rd most threatened families of sharks and rays globally. The governments of Sindh and Balochistan have taken a proactive step, thus setting a good example for other countries to follow. WWF-Pakistan considers this a major step for the conservation of marine species.
Pakistan is a member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which requires that tuna fishing boats may have restrictions on catching oceanic whitetip sharks and thresher sharks. Further, it is also signatory to CITES that regulates the international trade in whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, sawfishes among other species. Hence, implementation of these legislations, ensures compliance to IOTC and CITES requirements as well as ensuring conservation of other threatened species in Pakistan.
The notification issued by Balochistan government also requires all fishing boats larger than 15 meters to have satellite-based Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) which is also mandatory under IOTC and other international agreements. The government has been endeavouring for long to install VMS on local fishing boats but due to the lack of legal cover this was not achieved. WWF-Pakistan has already installed a number of satellite-based VMS and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) on fishing boats in Balochistan on pilot scale. With the new legal coverit will be possible to monitor the operations of fishing vessels in the coastal and offshore waters round the clock.
It is also worth mentioning that WWF-Pakistan signed a Letter of Cooperation (LoC) with the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency on 17 February 2016 for collaboration in promoting the use of VMS and AIS in fishing boats operating in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan also appreciated the ban on catching berried crabs as their resources are also depleting due to overfishing and catching of crabs loaded with eggs. WWF-Pakistan has played a key role in the enactment of these legislations and assures its support to the Balochistan and Sindh governments in developing mechanisms for the implementation of fisheries legislations.
Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan commenting on the new legislations pointed out that coastal communities use traditional conservation methods and practices.This legislation will provide strength to adhere to these practices as well as ensure conservation of threatened species.
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