Trawler nets wiping out Irrawaddy dolphins
The use of trawling nets has brought Songkhla Lake's Irrawaddy dolphins close to extinction, chief of Songkhla's Thalae Laung non-hunting area said yesterday.Jamnong Klaicharoen called on locals to stop using trawling nets because though the nets were meant to capture giant catfish, fresh-water dolphins often found themselves trapped and later died from injuries. He blamed the near-extinction of the Irrawaddy dolphins on these nets. Other factors for the extinction included inbreeding, which made the dolphins' life span shorter, the changing environment in the Songkhla Lake, expansion of the urban community and baby dolphins being separated from their mothers.
Jamnong said some 100 artificial coral reef boxes, each 4-by-4-metres wide, had been placed in areas inhabited by the Irrawaddy dolphins. Also, buoys had been placed to identify the territory.
He said officials were educating locals about the dangers of trawling nets and are encouraging them to use other fishing tactics like raising shrimps or fish in floating baskets.
Meanwhile, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and PTT Exploration and Production held a ceremony yesterday at Bangkok's PTT Energy Complex Building, to sign a memorandum of understanding for protecting Irrawaddy dolphins in Songkhla Lake. The MoU will lead to studies on the dolphins' living condition, movements, behaviour and threats from now to 2015. The study aims to ensure that the dolphins live in a fertile area, free from harm and extinction. It will also promote the conservation network's activities.
Irrawaddy dolphins can be found in Myanmar's Irrawady River, the mekong River in Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia's Mahakam River, India's Chilika Lake and Thailand's Songkhla Lake. They have been listed in CITES Appendix I.