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Dolphins face fishing threat

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Fish poachers using electric shock devices and nets are endangering the Irrawaddy dolphin population which could soon be extinct unless more action is taken to protect the popular creatures. Photo supplied

Dolphins face fishing threat

Fishing offences in the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area are still happening despite a ban, the Kampi fishing community said.

Most fish poachers use electric shock devices with power connected to their nets to catch fish in deep water, a practice that affects rare and endangered fish and dolphins.

Kampi fishing community chief Thon Narong told The Post on Monday that illegal fishing on a large scale must be stopped. Investigations also need to be launched to catch offenders who use illegal devices in prohibited areas.

“They have to send the cases to court or the Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River will become extinct.

“Offenders mostly use electric shocks of 30,000W connected to their fishing nets to catch fish in deep water. They do it at night and even in the daytime,” he said.

He said his community team recently worked in collaboration with the Fisheries Administration to arrest three offenders and recovered many shock devices, batteries, and inductors at the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area.

Theng Pheap the chief of the People’s Defence Force of Kampi in Sambok commune, Chitr Borei district told The Post it is not easy to catch offenders. It is also dangerous for members of his team.

“Sometimes perpetrators have many people with high-powered electric shock tools and boats with big engines that have chased and sunk our boats when they saw our team had only four or five people and no river guard.

“Protecting fishery resources, especially the Irrawaddy dolphins in the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area, is our responsibility,” Pheap said.

According to Pheap, the living standard of the people in Sambok commune, especially Kampi villagers, has improved due to the income from national and international tourists who visit the attractive Irrawaddy dolphins.

Using shock tools and fishing nets to fish the Anlong Kampi area and other areas in the Mekong from Kratie to Stung Treng, which is connected to the Thai border, is prohibited, according to Mok Ponlok, provincial deputy director of the Fisheries Administration.

Three dolphins have died this year after it was suspected they were trapped by fishing nets or shocked, he said.

“We are concerned about this case. We put in a lot of effort to protect them with daytime and night patrols from 20 to 22 times per month to protect fish and dolphins.

“Irrawaddy dolphins represent the identity of Kratie and Stung Treng and belong to the world,” he said.

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