Thatta's Fishermen Catch Rare, Inedible Jellyfish-like Species To Supplement Incomes

Locally referred to as Langaro, the white-coloured fish resembles a jellyfish and is shipped overseas, where it is used to create medicine

Thatta's Fishermen Catch Rare, Inedible Jellyfish-like Species To Supplement Incomes

As fish become scarce in the Arabian Sea and inflation soars, fishermen in the coastal delta region of Thatta have been turning to an unlikely source to make ends meet.

Fishermen living in and around Keti Bander have found that their usual catch has gradually shrunk. Not only did this rob them of a vital food source, but it also dented their only source of income. Squeezed by inflation, the fishermen have taken to catching a rare species of white-coloured fish that bears an uncanny resemblance to jellyfish. 

Those fishermen who have small boats venture into shallow seas to catch this fish. "We do not have to go into the deep sea to catch this fish," local fisherman Umer Malah said, adding that the aquatic organism is locally referred to as "Langaro".

Since their small boats cannot navigate the deeper parts of the sea, they trawl along the shores, where they can easily find Langaro. 

Another Keti Bander fisherman, Ali Muhaamad Malah, explained what exactly they do with the fish.

"The fish is not consumed here," he said, adding, "We sell it to a company at a rate of Rs100 per kilogramme."

Unlike other fish, which have to be covered in ice, this fish is covered in salt to keep it fresh.

Allah Bachayo, who also catches Langaro, said that conversations with the buyers of the fish revealed that their catch is packed into small boxes and then shipped off to China and other neighbouring countries where they are used to make some sort of medicine. 

Bachayo said that the species of fish they usually caught had dwindled in population. These species sustained them by meeting their nutritional and monetary needs. But with catch sizes shrinking, Bachayo said they have been compelled to catch those species of fish to keep their households afloat, which they would not consider otherwise. 

Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum member Noor Muhammad Themore told The Friday Times that fishermen in the delta regions of Thatta face multiple issues. 

"Lack of government assistance, improper fishing facilities, and a dearth of basic living facilities have prevented our fishermen from having a better life," he said, adding that fishermen no longer get an appropriate price for the different species of fish they catch in the local markets.

Zahid Ishaque Soomro, a researcher who has written a book about the history of Sindh's coastal regions, said that this region used to have an abundance of fish. Some of the famous species of fish found in this part of the country include "Poperi", "Khago", "Buhar", and "Pallah", as they are known locally.

Soomro said that most of these species are on the verge of extinction due to the degradation of the Indus delta.

He said that recently, a shoal of the rare "Sunheri" fish was caught and sold by fishermen in the main fish market of Karachi for a small fortune. Whether this would change the fortunes of local fishermen or not, it is anybody's guess, Soomro said. 

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.