Unprecedented decline in the catches of mobulids: an important component of tuna gillnet fisheries of the Northern Arabian Sea
Mobulid rays are found both in coastal and offshore waters of Pakistan and other Indian Ocean countries. Five species including giant manta, spinetail mobula (devilfish), shortfin devil ray, Chilean devil ray and smoothtail mobula are known to occur in Pakistan. These rays are caught as bycatch of pelagic gillnets which are used for targeting tuna and tuna like species in Pakistan. Mobulids were found to be quite common in bycatch prior to May 2015, however, there was an unprecedented decrease in landings of mobulids at Karachi Fish Harbour (where major sampling was done) and other landing centers along the coast of Pakistan. Although there is ban imposed on catching of mobulids in Pakistan since 2016, but there is need for taking immediate management measures by IOTC because of vulnerability of mobulids to fishing pressure and considering their decrease landings in Pakistan as well as other Indian Ocean countries.