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Rare swordfish caught in Miani Hor Lagoon

Posted on 27 January 2016

Karachi, 27 Jan: A seven-foot long swordfish (Xiphias gladius) was caught by Moula Bakhsh, a sport fisherman on 26 January in Miani Hor Lagoon between Damb and Bera areas of Lasbella district, Balochistan. The fish weighted around 56 kilogram and was sold at PK 8,800 in the local market in Karachi. According to the local fishermen of the area, it is unusual to have caught this species as it was never found in lagoon areas previously.

According to WWF-Pakistan, the swordfish is a rare oceanic fish which is found in deep waters. This species is included in billfishes such as marlin and sailfish and is represented by six species in Pakistan. This fish is locally known as ghora or asp and is considered to be commercially very important. Annually about eight thousand metric tons are caught in Pakistan but the swordfish is hardly represented in this catch. Pakistani boats operating in the Central Indian Ocean and waters off Yemen and Somalia occasionally catch swordfish, therefore, it is generally referred to as the Somali ghora.

Abdul Qayoom, Secretary of Coastal Association of Research and Development (CARD) and also a volunteer of WWF-Pakistan reported the incident and consulted local fishermen about this rare find. According to him, no case of this fish was ever recorded from the area.

WWF-Pakistan has been collecting information about billfishes from coastal and off-shore waters of Pakistan for the past five years. However only six specimen of this fish were caught from the border of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but no case was ever reported from neritic waters or inside creeks and lagoons. According to Umair Shahid, Coordinator WWF-Pakistan, occurrence of this species in the lagoon area is unbelievable as this is an oceanic fish. This erratic incidence in this area may be attributed to climate change. He also shared that this fish is considered to be highly predatory and migratory in nature as it is found widely in tropical and sub-tropical waters of all three major oceans including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.

According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser WWF-Pakistan, this fish is considered a delicacy and its world annual production is around 120,000 metric tons. Its meat is sold for steaks and also used for various other marinated and grilled products. The swordfish is the ultimate aim of sport fishermen. Its occurrence in Miani Hor Lagoon is quite unusual as this fast-moving fish seems to have been disoriented and eventually moved into this lagoon, which is known for it very fast water currents exceeding 3 meters per second. According to Khan, in the Indian Ocean 32,000 metric tons of swordfish are annually caught and stocks are considered to be healthy as the species is not subjected to over fishing. It is mainly caught in the central and southern Indian Ocean through long line fishing gears. He also added that local fishermen rarely catch juvenile swordfish in offshore waters of Pakistan.

According to Aziz Agha, Chairman Marine Peace and leading angler, no swordfish was ever caught by recreational fishermen in Pakistan although most of them dream of it.

WWF-Pakistan

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Media Relations at WWF-Pakistan

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