The Kratie Provincial Administration has reiterated that the use of electric fishing devices, large mesh size fishing nets and fishing leader lines is banned in the Mekong River dolphin protected areas.

The majority of dolphin deaths are caused by the use of illegal fishing gear.

A March 7 notification by the provincial authorities explained that Irrawaddy Mekong dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) have been discovered dead in the Anlong Kampi Dolphin Conservation Area and Chroy Banteay, either electrocuted, or drowned after becoming entangled in nets or leader lines. 

It announced that it will be taking serious action to eliminate this threat, based on Sub-Decree No.155 dated September 25, 2012, and other relevant provisions.

The provincial administration said that despite the best efforts of officials and most members of the local fishing communities, some fishermen use prohibited equipment, predominantly at night.

“These illegal activities are having a serious effect on fishery resources, especially the critically endangered Mekong dolphins, which are one of the Kingdom’s most sacred national treasures,” said the administration.

They urged anyone in possession of illegal fishing equipment to hand them in to the local authorities or fisheries officials, especially in the 21.65km stretch of the Mekong River which has been designated as a dolphin protection area.

The administration, through the provincial Fisheries Administration (FiA) under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, has warned that it will pursue legal action against anyone who fails to comply with the request, adding that if necessary, it will employ the legal mechanisms of the Fisheries Law to search people’s homes.

Ouk Vibol, director of the FiA’s Fisheries Conservation Department, noted that as of February this year, three dolphin births have been recorded, a promising increase over the same period in 2023, when just one calf was observed.

He explained that the increased birth rate is an indicator that conservation and preservation efforts are succeeding, but warned that the continued use of illegal fishing gear could easily reverse this trend.

According to Ouk Vibol, it is estimated that the current dolphin population in Stung Treng and Kratie provinces stands at around 90.