Entangled bottlenose dolphin release in Sea KARACHI: Fishermen at sea successfully freed a bottlenose dolphin that entangled in their fishing net near the coast of Ormara in Balochistan on Saturday, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) stated on Monday.
Last month, a giant diamondback squid was freed in a similar manner off the coast of Balochistan.
“The dolphin was found struggling in gillnet laid down to catch tuna by Jehan Badshah and his crew. They immediately retrieved the fishing gear and released the cetacean back into the sea after freeing it from the net,” said WWF-P technical advisor on marine fisheries, Mohammad Moazzam Khan.
Two dolphins were freed in a similar manner last year, he added.
Commending the fishermen on their efforts, Mr Khan said that fishing gear was the single biggest killer of whales and dolphins across the world and conservation steps by fishermen would help save the declining population of this key marine species.
“Being a mammalian, dolphins do not posses gills to extract oxygen from water so they must come out to surface of the water to breathe. This means that their survival chances in case of entanglement is naught,” he explained.
A 2012 WWF-P study, whose data was made available online in 2014, has estimated that the annual mortality figure for dolphins owing to their entanglement in tuna gillnets in Pakistan is 12,000.
Mr Khan pointed out that over the past few years, fishermen trained by the organisation under a project funded by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and Common Oceans had freed a number of marine species caught in their nets as bycatch.
According to him, 22 species of cetaceans are known from Pakistan and all of these are considered either vulnerable or threatened.
“All cetaceans, including whales and dolphins, have been declared as protected species under the fisheries legislations of governments of Sindh and Balochistan this year. They are also declared protected species under the Balochistan Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act 2014,” he said.
Senior director programmes at the WWF-P Rab Nawaz said that a study on marine dolphins and whales was initiated by the organisation in 1997 which involved concerned research institutions.
“Since then considerable information has been generated about the cetacean population. In consultation with all major stakeholders, WWF-P has prepared a Cetacean Conservation Strategy which was presented during a workshop in 2013.
“Enactment of legislation on cetaceans by fisheries and wildlife departments was one of the major recommendations of this strategy, which is now being done. Now, there is a need to effectively implement concerned laws to ensure protection of dolphins and whales in Pakistan,” he said.
There are two species of bottlenose dolphins in the world; the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), which is mostly found in the offshore waters, and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), which is more coastal in nature. Both these species are reported from Pakistan and pods of these dolphins can be seen in the coastal and offshore waters frequently.