Over 300 local and foreign visitors have come to watch the Ayeyawady Dolphins helping fishermen catch fish since October this year, said U Maung Lay, the leader of the Ayeyawady Dolphins Conservation and Cooperative Fishermen Team.
“This year, the number of visitors interested in observing cooperative fishing with the assistance of the dolphins has significantly increased. We have had several local visitors, too. Today, we demonstrated cooperative fishing with the dolphins to three Japanese and 22 local visitors. We have not been able to estimate the exact number of visitors because some tour groups have already registered to visit the area as of January,” he added.
“A total of 319 visitors including 143 foreigners and 176 locals observed demonstrations of fishing with dolphins between 1 October and 17 December. We have also registered some groups, including 10 overnight tours and 7-day return tours, as of 2 January, 2019,” U Maung Lay said.
“Demonstrations of fishing with dolphins are helping attract tourists interested in natural fishing. But there have been some cases where dolphins have died because of fishing methods involving electric shocks and nets. These days, we are taking greater care to keep the dolphins safe as the water level in the Ayeyawady river has decreased,” he added.
“A demonstration of fishing with dolphins can fetch K40,000. Fishermen who participate in the demonstration share the money,” he said. The Fisheries Department has been conducting joint patrols with the marine police and local administrators to prevent illegal fishing to conserve the Ayeyawady dolphins.
The Ayeyawady dolphins conservation team has seized 28 illegal fishing vessels between 2017 and November 2018. The team has also conducted awareness campaigns in nearly 100 villages. The team announced the second Ayeyawady dolphin protection area on the Htigyaing-Katha-Shwegu stretch of the Ayeyawady River in August this year.
— Khine Set Wai
(Translated by Hay Mar)