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 user 2005-06-10 at 10:15:00 am Views: 87
  • #9860
    Group Sounds Alarm Over Trapped Dolphins

    MANILA, Philippines (June 05) – From Southeast Asia to the
    Black Sea, fishing nets have become deathtraps for thousands of whales, dolphins
    and porpoises – species whose survival will be threatened unless fishing methods
    change, the World Wildlife Fund said Thursday.

    The U.S.-based environmental group released a marine
    scientists’ report that listed species threatened by accidental catch, and
    recommended low-cost steps to reduce their entanglement in fishing gear.

    The report identified dolphins in the Philippines, India
    and Thailand as urgent priorities.

    Researchers estimate that fishing gear kills about 300,000
    whales, dolphins and porpoises a year in the world’s oceans.

    Threatened populations include Irrawaddy dolphins in
    Malampyaya Sound off the Philippines’ Palawan island, about 220 miles south of
    Manila. The WWF report said only 77 remain.

    Dolphins also face the threat of traders who sell them to
    aquariums, especially in Asia, the report said.

    Other threatened populations include Spinner and Fraser’s
    dolphins in the Philippines’ Sulu Sea. The WWF report said up to 3,000 Spinner
    dolphins may be caught each year in gillnets, which stretch from the sea floor
    to the surface and are hard for dolphins to see or detect with their sonar.

    If the mammals are trapped underwater in nets and can’t get
    to the surface to breathe, they drown.

    Dolphins are also under threat in Indonesia, Myanmar,
    India’s Chilka Lake and Thailand’s Songkhla Lake, the WWF said.

    Fishing gear kills thousands of porpoises each year in the
    Black Sea, the report said. Atlantic humpback dolphins face the same fate off
    the coasts of Ghana and Togo in Africa, as do Franciscana dolphins in Argentina,
    Uruguay and Brazil, it said.

    Indo-Pacific humpback and bottlenose dolphins often die in
    nets off the south coast of Zanzibar, the report added.

    Most of the animals are threatened by the widespread use of
    one type of fishing gear – gillnets, the WWF report said.

    U.S. fisheries in 1993-2003 introduced changes that reduced
    by a third the number of dolphins accidentally killed by fishing, or bycatch,
    the WWF said.

    But few other countries have followed that example, “and in
    much of the rest of the world, progress on bycatch mitigation has been slow to
    nonexistent,” the group said.

    “These accidental deaths can be significantly reduced,
    often with very simple, low-cost solutions,” said Karen Baragona of WWF’s
    species conservation program. “Slight modifications in fishing gear can mean the
    difference between life and death for dolphins.”

    The report will be submitted next week to the International
    Whaling Commission meeting in South Korea, the WWF said.