Cambodia moves to protect endangered Mekong dolphins

Cambodia moves to protect endangered Mekong dolphins

Cambodia moves to protect endangered Mekong dolphins

Updated 1 March 2012, 7:50 AEDT

Cambodia is to attempt to regulate fishing in a large stretch of the Mekong River to try to protect endangered dolphins.

The chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Ecotourism Zone, Touch Seang Tana, has told reporters a new sub-decree on protection of the dolphins has just been finalized and is expected to soon be approved by the Cabinet meeting.

He said the measure covers a 180-kilometre stretch of the Mekong River downstream from the border with Laos.

He said villagers in the protected area will still be allowed to conduct fishing activities but only with cast nets, not gillnets and fish cages that can trap and drown dolphins.

Floating houses will not be allowed in the zone since gillnets can be hidden underneath them.

The Mekong River subpopulation of the species, which is known as the Irrawaddy Dolphin, has been listed as critically endangered since 2004.

Touch Seang Tana estimated there are more than 100 adult Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong, while international wildlife conservation group WWF recently estimated the number is more like 85.