KARACHI - For Dilawar Hussain, catching one of the biggest fish in the Pakistani waters came with a heavy price. Although the fisherman sold off his enormous catch with a hefty price tag of Rs 170,000, the maritime security personnel caught whiff and reportedly arrested him on “unspecified charges”.
In the early hours of Tuesday at the Karachi Fish Harbour (KFH), Hussain brought to the Hora Jetty a 40 feet long whale shark, Rhincodon typus, weighing in at a massive four tonnes.
A large crowd gathered at the jetty making it difficult for the KFH rescuers to reclaim the fish from the sea.
Two huge cranes of 35 tonnes each were called in to reclaim the prize from the sea and it took them at least six hours in pulling the huge fish out of the water. The operation also rendered a part of the Hora Jetty badly damaged.
Reportedly, the fish was caught late Sunday night at the Ghora Pari Point around 50 miles away from the Karachi harbour off Arabian Sea. Locally called the “Andhi Magar” or blind fish, the whale shark had died after entangling in the fisherman’s net at Indo-Pakistan sea border area known as “Kaar”.
The 4,000-kg whale shark was, reportedly, auctioned off for Rs 0.17 million.
The fish meat may be used in the production of poultry feed.
Considered the largest extant fish species in the world, the whale shark is a slow-moving filter feeding shark. The largest individual confirmed on record had a length of 12.65 metres (41.50 feet) and weighed over 21.5 tonnes. Unconfirmed reports suggest the presence of considerably larger whale sharks.
The distinctively-marked fish with a lifespan of about 70 years is found in tropical and warm oceans.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggested that Hussain was arrested by security personnel either from the Pakistan Navy (PN) or the Maritime Security Agency (MSA), raising many question over the legality of the fisherman’s arrest.
However, the spokespersons of PN and MSA, when contacted, denied that any of their quarters concerned had detained any person.
PN’s Commodore Salman Ali told Pakistan Today said: “None of our quarters have reported the arrest [of Hussain]. Our presence at fisheries [KFH] is negligible.”
MSA spokesman Muhammad Farooque also denied involvement of his agency in the matter.
The obscurity surrounding Hussain’s detention, however, cleared when sources at the KFH informed Pakistan Today that the fisherman was arrested by the personnel of the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD).
Even this raises serious questions about the security arrangements inside Pakistani waters as to how the fisherman managed to freely tow the mammoth fish from Kaar to the Karachi harbour without any security checks.
Four security agencies, including KFH, Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Pakistan Customs and MSA, are working in the Pakistani territorial waters.
The MFD was able to arrest the fisherman only after his arrival at the KFH.
Talking with Pakistan Today, former KFH director general Moazzam said the whale shark is one of the largest fish in the world. “Whale sharks live in warm waters and Pakistani waters are a breeding place for the fish,” he said.
“We had caught the babies of whale sharks in 1982, 1988 and 2005,” Moazzam recalled, adding that the existing laws in Pakistan are silent on catching such fish. “Any fisherman can catch the whale shark in the sea,” he said.
The shark was placed in the outer section of the KFH for exhibition, where the general public visited in great numbers to see the fish.