Electric shock fishing caused decline in Ayeyawaddy Dolphin species

Reported by EMG
An Ayeyawady dolphin. (Photo-EMG)

Dolphin numbers along the Ayeyawaddy River are now listed as a species facing extinction and the blame is being put on fishermen, some of whom are using car batteries that kill both fishes and dolphins with electric shocks.

Indiscriminate and illegal fishing activities, according to experts, have been the main factor behind the number of Ayeyawaddy Dolphins getting dangerously scarce.

“Fishing that were carried out together from both dolphins and human beings can only be seen in Myanmar’s Ayeyawaddy River. Now that beautiful and long lasting custom is being threatened by electric shock fishing. We have to hope that the travel agencies can save the lives of Ayeyawaddy Dolphins,” said an official from World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In 2016, more than 385,031 travelers came to Mandalay Region where majority of Ayeyawaddy Dolphins can be seen. Among them, there are 19,810 people who visited the area using boats going to Bagan and these numbers may also visit the place where Ayeyawaddy Dolphins live. If they visited the areas, there may be US $ 10.5 million income from which viewing or visiting the natural habitats of theAyeyawaddy Dolphins stay.

The wonderful thing Ayeyawaddy Dolphins do is that they catch fish in cooperation with human beings. In a research made by Department of Fisheries (DOF) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) made in 2006 and 2007 proved that fishing in natural cohesion amongst dolphins and humans can catch more fish and increase income in the long run.

At present, conservation area for Ayeyawaddy Dolphins has been extended in Kachin State and Sagain Region according to WCS Myanmar.

The Ayeyawaddy Dolphin Protected Area (ADPA) was established in 2005 and distance of 74 kilometers of the Ayeyawaddy River from Mingun near Mandalay north to Kyauk Myaung, encompassing one-third of the range of a population of the critically endangered Ayeyawaddy Dolphins.

According to the Department of Fisheries, electric shock fishing is banned with violators at risk of a Ks.300,000 fine or a three-year prison sentence.

Despite the hefty fine and punishment for the rural populace enforced by the fishery department, prohibited methods of fishing still continues to be used.