By Tanpisit Lerdbamrungchai
The use of trawl nets to capture giant catfish has brought Songkhla Lake's Irrawaddy dolphins to near extinction, Songkhla's Thalae Laung non-hunting area head said Friday.
Jamnong Klaicharoen urged local people to stop using this kind of net to capture giant catfish, as the dolphins often became trapped in the nets and later died from wounds.
Other factors include inbreeding, which results in a shorter life span, the changing environment of the Songkhla Lake’s, urban expansion, and the separation of mother dolphins from their babies.
Jamnong said some 100 “fish home” artificial coral reef boxes, each measuring 4mx4m, has been placed at spots where Irrawaddy dolphins had been spotted and buoys had also been set to identify the dolphin habitat territory, in a bid to protect the creatures. He said officials also tried to educate locals about the danger of using trawl nets and suggested that they get involving in other fishery activities such as raising shrimps or fish in floating baskets.
Irrawaddy dolphins exist in five fresh water sources including Myanmar’s Irrawady River, Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia’s Mahakam River, India’s Chilika Lake and Thailand’s Songkhla Lake. Thailand placed Irrawaddy dolphins as protected wildlife under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 1992 and proposed the dolphins be listed on CITES Appendix II in 2003.