Conservationists and communities in the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area in Kratie province said that despite the ban on fishing and regular patrols, fishing offences in the area are still happening which they said is cause for alarm.
The concern was raised when an adult male Irrawaddy dolphin was recently found dead in the Mekong River in Sambok commune of Kratie’s Chitr Borei district.
Provincial Fisheries Administration deputy director Tan Someth Bunwat told The Post on January 17 that the dolphin was found stuck in a fishing net on the evening of January 14.
“Nets are the biggest risk for Irrawaddy dolphins. The carcass of the male dolphin that we found on January 14 had its tail and body entangled with fishing nets. This is our biggest concern,” he said.
The fishing net was made from soft nylon thread which does not easily dissolve in water.
According to Someth Bunwat, the carcass was 198cm long, weighed 85kg and was between 12 and 15 years old, which he said is of reproductive age.
The dolphin had been dead for around three days because it was rotten. The carcass is currently being kept at the World Wild Fund for Nature’s (WWF-Cambodia) Kratie office after undergoing a biopsy on January 15.
After this incident, the river guards increased their patrols day and night to determine the identity of the suspects who the authorities suspected were smuggled into the area.
Nhem Yon, a tour boat operator in the Anlong Kampi resort area, expressed deep regret for the loss of another Irrawaddy dolphin.
Yon, who also transports tourists by boat to see Irrawaddy dolphins, told The Post on January 17 that the dolphins are an attraction that spur tourism, helping locals to earn income and have better lives.
He said his community has always participated in the protection and conservation of Irrawaddy dolphins by patrolling to stop illegal fishing and promoting the benefits of Irrawaddy dolphins once a week to people living in various villages and students in schools.
Yon said the perpetrators were likely outsiders who carried out illegal fishing activities at night.