The distribution of whales in the northern Arabian Sea along the coast of Pakistan obtained through crew-based observer programme - results of the 2018 fishing season
Muhammad Moazam and Rab Nawaz
Sightings of whales made by WWF-Pakistanâ€™s Crew Based Observers deputed on tuna gillnet vessels operating along Pakistanâ€™s coast were reported for the 2018 fishing season. A total of 13 sightings of Arabian Sea humpback whales, 2 sightings of blue whales, 1 sightings of Brydeâ€™s whales, 4 sightings of sperm whales and 15 sightings of baleen whales (that could not be identified to species level due to lack of adequate photographic or video evidence) were made during 2018. The number of whales recorded for the year 2018 is much less than 2017 when a total of 95 sightings of whale were recorded from the area. This decrease in sighting is attributed to early closure of fishing season in late April 2018 because of extremely low prices of tuna in the market. Usually a voluntary two month close season is observed between June and July, however, the new fishing season was started in September 2018. The close season, therefore, remained effective for about four months (May to August). In addition, a major part of tuna fishing fleet operated in the further offshore waters (known to have thin population of whales) to avoid checking by Government agencies for implementation on various legislation during November- December 2018.