Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
The Phnom Penh Post, Wed, 28 December 2016
The critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin’s population in the Mekong is “stabilising”, the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday.
With the sighting of 10 new dolphin calves and six reported deaths in the past year, 2016 saw a 30 percent drop in the mortality rate compared to 2015, according to the statement, though the current population estimate of 80 remains far below the 200 estimated in 1997.
The group currently identifies hydropower dam construction, decreasing water levels and illegal fishing practices as major threats to the species. According to the group’s spokesman, Sambo Chheng, “most illegal fishing happens during the dry season, because dolphins and fish [are concentrated] in deep pools” along the Mekong when water levels reach their annual lows.
Community fishing patrols, he added, will be implemented in coordination with the Fisheries Administration starting this year to stave off illegal fishing. This strategy is similar to the use of patrols in the waters around the Koh Rong archipelago introduced earlier this year.
Earlier this month, Stung Treng-based environmentalists Chum Hout and Chum Hour noted that dolphins have become scarce near the construction of the Don Sahong dam. Today, they said it’s been two months since they’ve sighted any. (more…)