Despite Dolphin-Saving Plan, Dam Threat Remains

A little more than two years after signing off on a scheme aimed at improving protection of the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, experts said last week they were concerned that Mekong dams would see wholesale destruction of the population. 

During a two-day workshop that closed on Thursday, officials from a range of government agencies, environmental groups and academic institutions discussed progress since the March 2012 signing of the Kratie declaration, according to a WWF statement released yesterday.

A crackdown on the use of gillnets has resulted in decreased mortality of adult dolphins, but experts raised concern that the planned Don Sahong dam in Laos will pose “a major risk to the river’s Irrawaddy dolphins.”

“Only a few decades ago, I saw with my own eyes thousands of Irrawaddy dolphins swimming throughout the Mekong River,” said Fisheries Administration director Nao Thuok, during his opening statement at the workshop. Today, no more than 91 of the dolphins are believed to remain in the Mekong River.

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