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'Save the Whale Shark' campaign goes to Lakshadweep

By instilling a sense of guardianship among fishers, WTI’s ‘Save The Whale Shark’ campaign aims to prevent instances of whale shark fatalities caused by neighbouring Kerala fishers.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 03:20 IST

Mumbai: The mission to save whale sharks has reached the tropical archipelago of Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea.

The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has partnered with the local fisherfolk in the conservation project.

The Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training (CIFNET), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), NETFISH besides the forest and fisheries departments are involved in the initiative.

The WTI partnered with VST Industries for the primary objective of this initiative is to sensitise the fishing community, emphasising Lakshadweep's status as one of the largest whale shark aggregation sites.

By instilling a sense of guardianship among fishers, WTI’s ‘Save The Whale Shark’ campaign aims to prevent instances of whale shark fatalities caused by neighbouring Kerala fishers.

“WTI with the support of IUCN had conducted a survey along the west coast (excluding Gujarat) during 2012-13 and found that the highest number of whale shark sightings (after the Gujarat coast) were near the waters of Lakshadweep. Fishers of Kerala often go to Lakshadweep waters to fish and the high incidental landings can be attributed to this fact,” said Sajan John, Marine Specialist, WTI, in a press statement.

The event, on February 26, inaugurated by Dr Sayed Ali and graced with a presidential address by forester Jaseel, witnessed the participation of 70 dedicated fishers.

Furthering its outreach, the WTI team conducted a sensitisation event at Moola Beach in Androth Island, drawing an audience of over 600 individuals. The captivating display of a life-size whale shark mascot served as a catalyst for engaging discussions and inquiries from islanders, indicating a growing interest in whale shark conservation efforts.

Similarly, the WTI team conducted an event at the Fisheries Office in Androth Island last week for key stakeholders from the fisheries and forest departments and the fisher community. This was followed by a sensitisation and interaction session with 650 students of Government Senior Basic School, Pandath in Androth Island.

WTI initiated a whale shark conservation project along Kerala and Lakshadweep Island with the support of Cochin Shipyard Ltd in 2017. The whale shark is the largest fish on earth that can attain lengths of approximately 18 metres and weigh as much as 21 metric tonnes. This species is categorised as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in India.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 03:20 IST)

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