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PM Hun Sen gives pro-dolphin decree

120827_06

Irrawaddy dolphins swim in the Tbong Klah pool, in Stung Treng province, last year. Photo World Wildlife Fund/Hang Sereyvuth

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday approved a new sub-decree geared toward increased protection of the endangered Mekong river dolphin through a series of fishing and motorised transport restrictions in the Mekong river in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

The Council of Minister’s sub-decree, obtained on Friday by the Post, sets out to meet management and conservation obligations on Cambodia for the species.

“There are approximately between 155-175 Mekong dolphins remaining in Cambodian Mekong River under the conservation efforts of the government throughout the last six years,” the sub-decree reads.

Conservation efforts for the Mekong dolphins have increased after the species was listed in International Union for Conservation of Nature’s endangered species list in 2004.

The sub-decree bans the use of all kinds of fishing grills and motorised transport exceeding 30 kilometres per hour.

The clearance of forest and large-scale construction of infrastructure along the island near Kratie in the protected zone is also prohibited under the 12-point sub-decree.

Michelle Owen, acting country director of World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia, applauded the decree’s role in Mekong River conservation.

“To be effective the sub-decree must be supported by local communities along the Mekong river,” said Owen during Friday’s meeting. “The Dolphin Commission and the Fisheries Administration will also need strong backing from the Cambodian government and international donors to support enforcement of the sub-decree.”

The Mekong river dolphin protection zone covers 7,630 square metres and stretches 180 kilometres from Laos into Cambodia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com

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