The Trapeang Ropov fishing community in Kampot province said that a 90-kg dolphin had been found dead on December 13 after becoming trapped in a fisherman’s net.
Community head Thung Nhil said it was regretful that the large dolphin had been lost, as they attracted many tourists to the area.
“Fishing nets are widely used in the area, and there is no ban on their use. We are all saddened by this tragic accident,” added Nhil.
The Fishery Administration’s Department of Fisheries Conservation director Uk Vibol said that there are an estimated 20 to 30 dolphins in Kampot and about 80 in Kep. He also expressed his regret at the loss.
“We cannot stop fishermen from using nets. Because they are not illegal fishing tools, it is difficult to apportion blame or punish anyone for this death. They set their net to catch fish, but caught a dolphin. What we can do is mark the areas dolphins are found, and educate the fishermen on the importance of the species,” he added.
Vibol also said that the dolphin’s remains had been was buried. Its bones would be unearthed in the future for display at a museum.
Heng Kimhong, head of the Cambodian Youth Network's research and advocacy programme, said that fishery administration officials should investigate the case more closely, and discipline those who caused the death of the rare species.
“If no proactive action is taken, we are concerned that more will be lost – including other precious natural resources. As in any country with respect for the rule of law, those who commit wrong doing must be held accountable,” Kimhong said.