Pattaya Daily News

02 August 2010 :: 17:08:42 pm 34138

Thailand’s Fishing Practices Endanger Rare Dolphin Species

Orcaella Brevirostris, the rare dolphins living in South East Asia’s freshwater areas and estuaries, are being pushed to extinction through Thailand’s reckless fishing practices
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The already rare Irrawaddy dolphins that are found only in the northern part of Songkhla Lake, ‘Talay Luang’ in the southern provinces of Phatthalung and Songkhla, are being pushed to extinction by bad fishing practices here in Southern Thailand. The death rate of the dolphins is continually increasing, raising concerns for their survival.

A survey conducted in 2006-2008 showed on average four to seven carcasses of dolphins washed up on the shores, while numbers of the animal have dwindled to as little as 36. Six bodies of the Irrawaddy dolphins were found entangled in fishing nets in January of this year.

As well as the poor fishing practices, the living conditions for the dolphins have declined with a reduction of natural sources and environmental degradation caused by shallow waters of the lake which have led to habitat loss for the animals.

In past years, gone by, say the fishermen, their grandparent saw hundreds of dolphins in the lake. They were not shy creatures, but for several years the numbers of dolphins have decreased dramatically with hardly any being seen today.

Irrawaddy dolphins have taken hundreds of years to adapt to fresh water zones, but only a few decades to disappear. Surveys have recorded specific locations where the dolphins were found in order to monitor and watch for inappropriate fishing practices that are detrimental to their survival.

Protection Officer Jamnong Glaicharoen from the Taly Luang Non- Hunting Area said they are focusing on building and raising awareness among the local population and are thinking of developing the dolphins’ territory in order to make it a tourist attraction.

Bouys have been put in place as a dolphin protection zone with in 100 square km and are also a sign for fishermen to refrain from fishing in this area where legal action will be taken if they are found to be violating the new rule.

Recently, a search team found a one year old dolphin calf and a giant catfish floating on the surface, but not one Irrawaddy dolphin in sight. It is assumed the calf had been caught up in a fishing net in the protected area. If the mother had died, then the calf would not have her milk so would also eventually die.

Fishermen have increased their fishing equipment with such things as trawlers in order to catch giant catfish which can net them more than 100,000Bt each time, but it is these trawlers that are endangering the dolphins. In order to preserve the number of the Irrawaddi dolphins everyone has to be aware of this critical situation.

Myfanawy Evans

Photo : Internet   Category : Society

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