KARACHI: Fishermen hauled commercially high-value ‘croakers fish’ in Balochistan waters last weekend, fetching about Rs1 million but marine experts raised eyebrows over the huge catch, fearing the species may become extinct if its hunt continues uncontrolled.

A boat, which was fishing offshore Daran in Balochistan’s Jiwani sea area, caught 18 large croakers also known as Kir in Balochi language last Sunday, May 15, the WWF-Pakistan said on Tuesday.

Sajad Umer, the boat skipper, said that his crew made the huge catch of croakers through bottom-set gillnets off Jiwani coast, adding that the single day haul was traded for Rs800,000.

The big sized croakers of the lot fetched Rs500,000 and small ones Rs100,000, the WWF-Pakistan said.

“The large croakers are local migrants and form large spawning aggregations in Balochistan and Sindh waters,” Technical Advisor, WWF-Pakistan, Muhammad Moazzam Khan said.

Growing demand of fish maws in Chinese markets has triggered croakers’ stocks depletion in seas around the globe, he said that the fish population fall is inevitable unless better management is ensured in Pakistan’s coastal provinces.

“Yellow croakers in China and Totoaba in Baja, California have already depleted,” he warned.

Croakers’ aggregations were frequently observed in coastal waters off Jiwani, Gwadar, Ormara, Sonmiani Bay and Indus Delta about 20 years ago, he said that it is now rare in Pakistani waters.

He feared that the large croakers may become locally extinct if fisheries management was not employed.

Spotted croakers and Japanese meagre are the two species of large croakers found in Pakistan that fetch very high prices to the tune of millions of rupees in the recent past, accord the WWF-Pakistan.

Sudheer Ahmed, Research Associate at WWF-Pakistan’s Information Centre at Jiwani said that the occurrence of spawning aggregations is frequently reported from the Daran-Jiwani area since the last four years.

Fishermen caught a number of large croakers from the area in 2019 and 2020, he said that the uncontrolled hunt of croakers in the area may make the species extinct.

He urged for a need to take immediate measures to protect the species through declaring the sea as a “Marine Protected Area or Fish Refugia”.

The main reason for high prices of croakers is its large swim bladder, commonly known as fish maws, which are used for soup making to treat pregnancy and joint pains.

“A single swim bladder could fetch as much as Rs50,00,000 per kg in Hong Kong or Guangzhou market,” the WWF-Pakistan said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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