Local communities aiding to protect Mekong Dolphins

(Image Credit to:http://www.redorbit.com/)

*For those who may not know, the Mekong River has been in jeopardy due to a 30 kilometres dam project called the Xayaburi Dam.  It has sparked numerous controversies as the impact of the construction is huge.  It does not only disrupt the source of protein which has been provided for 60 million people, it also threatens the biodiversity of the river, which includes the dolphins.

In Kratie Town, Cambodia, five fishermen had committed themselves in protecting the Irrawaddy Dolphin which swims in the Mekong River.  The fishermen emphasised on how serious the usage of gill net and they are in support of banning the  net which imposes a threat to the Irrawaddy’s Dolphin.

The ceremony which was organised by the Commission for Dolphin Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Eco-Tourism zone, the Fisheries Administration and WWF was aim to engage, NGO,  government officials, monks as well as the locals to place their commitments toward protecting the living treasure in the Mekong River,  Irrawaddy Dolphins.

His Excellency Touch Seang Tana, Chairman of the Commission for Dolphin Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Eco-Tourism Zone, claimed that he realised on how important it is to protect the dolphins as it is considered as sacred to the Cambodia people.  In addition, the presence of the dolphins has become an attraction for tourists, and it contributes to the tourism sector as another source of income for the country.  He also inform that the people should stop using the gill nets as it imposes a threat to the dolphins.

For the past few decades, the population of the dolphin has been declining due to human activities which also includes the usage of gill nets.  The government’s endeavour in avoiding the decimation of the dolphins is by imposing a ban on the usage of the gill nets within the habitat of the dolphins which is between the Kratie town and Laos border.

Mr Meas Min, Chief of Koh Pdao Village, intends to inform the villagers upon the consequences of using the gill nets.  He said that the gill net is not safe for the dolphins and protecting them is prominent for the benefit of the future generations.

The Cambodian Rural Development Team in partnership with the Cambodian Government and WWF has implemented an alternative livelihoods programme such as aquaculture, livestock raising and so on in order to reduce the dependency of fishery resources.

According to the website, “The Royal Cambodian Government has taken a big step toward conserving this species and this is a great opportunity for stakeholders all across the country to join together to save the Mekong River dolphin – the smiling face of the Mekong,” says Ms Michelle Owen, WWF’s Acting Country Director. 

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