Phnom Penh Post –
Conservationists have expressed alarm over the increase in the mortality rate of Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia’s Mekong River last year, compared to previously.
The director of the Fisheries Conservation Department, Ouk Vibol, said on Wednesday: “Though we are happy at the birth of 13 dolphins last year, we are also concerned with the spike in the death rate recorded in the same year.
“Six dolphins were reported to have died last year – the highest number when compared to previous years.”
He said in 2017, only two Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River had died while 10 were born. The year after, five dolphins died and nine were born.
A forensic examination revealed that 90 per cent of the dolphins died after getting entangled in fishing nets while the remaining 10 per cent died either from old age or after being attacked by male dolphins.
At a Senate meeting on the management and conservation of fish stocks on January 3, Senator Khieu Muth urged specialists and the relevant authorities, as well as fishing communities living around dolphin conservation areas, to participate in strengthening and increasing patrols in the vicinity.
“The Mekong River dolphins have helped to promote the Kingdom’s tourism, which in turn, has helped create more jobs and raise living standards among community residents. This has also generated income for the National Budget.
“So, we have to step up to ensure the protection of these precious our dolphins,” he said.