Bangkok, Jan 2 (EFE).- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Monday the formation of a permanent core zone on the Mekong River for improved protection of critically endangered dolphins, following the deaths of three in 10 days last month due to fishing nets.
Hun Sen announced the decision during the inauguration of a bridge over the Mekong River in Kratie, the official Khmer News said.
He said fishing activities in protected conservation zones would be prohibited to protect the Irrawaddy dolphins, found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins inhabit a 118-mile stretch of the river between Cambodia and Lao PDR and are scarce — just 92 are estimated to still exist.
Irrawaddy dolphins have a bulging forehead, a short beak, and 12–19 teeth on each side of both jaws.
They are distinguished by their grey to dark blue color and tiny fin. They weigh between 90 and 200 kg and are about 2.5 meters long.
The death of three dolphins last month due to fishing nets triggered alarm among environmentalists.
Some protection zones for the Irrawaddy dolphin in Cambodia allow fishing activities.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Irrawaddy dolphin is red-listed as endangered, while the three riverine subpopulations are all critically endangered (Mekong, Mahakam, Ayeyarwady). EFE