Maharashtra will soon have a policy to protect the whale sharks in the waters off its coast. Taking a cue from the efforts put in by neighbouring Gujarat, the state is chalking out a plan to conserve the largest fish in the world.
As a part of these efforts, the Central government, United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) have organised a one-day workshop for various government bodies, non-government organisations and field experts on May 30. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is also one of the partners in the workshop. “The workshop has been organised with an aim to formulate a workable roadmap that will be implemented on ground,” said N. Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangroves Cell.
Whale sharks come under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which means that the fish should be given highest priority in terms of protection. The Wildlife Trust of India has estimated that the second largest group of whale sharks can be found in the sea waters off Maharashtra.
According to Mr. Vasudevan, forming a policy to protect fish species from being hunted will involve interacting with fishing communities.