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Endangered dolphin caught in fishing nets

AN Irrawaddy dolphin has been found dead after it became entangled in fishing nets in an area of the Mekong River that lies outside a protected zone in Kratie province, a conservation official said.

Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia’s Commission to Conserve Mekong River Dolphins and Develop Ecotourism, said yesterday that such deaths were common and difficult to prevent.

“There is no method to protect against this kind of incident. People put their fishing nets all over the area outside the conservation zone,” he said.

Touch Seang Tana said that a total of four Irrawaddy dolphins had died so far this year. He said also that the deaths had been offset by the birth of nine baby dolphins, and pegged the total population in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces at between 150 and 170.

However, Teak Seng, country director for the World Wildlife Fund, said that at least five river dolphins had died so far this year, in addition to the 11 deaths recorded in 2009.

He said that WWF would continue to collaborate with the Fisheries Administration to protect endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and monitor “illegal fishing practices in the core dolphin habitat”.

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