All six species of finless porpoise are currently threatened with extinction. Fortunately, an innovative project in Indonesia has confirmed that electronic transmitters can help prevent dolphins entering freshwater from approaching fishing nets, protect them from entanglement in fishing nets, and also benefit local fishermen.
Experiment with electronic transmitter
Indonesian NGOs work with local communities to install fishing nets with electronic transmitters in an attempt to reduce the risk of gillnets to the last 80 Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in Indonesia’s Mahakam River. Danger. Over the past 25 years, entanglement in fishing nets has killed two-thirds of the dolphins in the Mahakan River, and many other finless porpoises in the Indus and Ganges rivers are in a similar situation. A pilot project for electronic transmitters is bringing surprising results in the Mahakan River ahead of World Finless Dolphin Day on October 24. Monitoring studies have shown that the transmitters make noises to drive the Iye dolphins away, and they avoid the nets with the transmitters, and fishermen say the Iye dolphins no longer try to chase fish in their nets. Danielle Kreb, head of the scientific program at the Yayasan Konservasi RASI Research Foundation, who led the study, said: “The transmitter worked better than expected and apparently kept the Yi River dolphins away from dangerous fishing nets. Good news for other populations of finless porpoises in the Americas, as entanglement in gillnets is one of the leading causes of death for finless porpoises around the world.” Electronic transmitters have been shown to reduce gillnet catch of many species of dolphins, porpoises and whales, but this is the first complete test of dolphins in freshwater environments. In addition to helping protect the Yi River dolphins, the transmitters have also improved the livelihoods of local fishermen. During the six-month study period, a survey of 40 fishermen showed that the Ie River dolphins stopped running into gillnets to fish, reducing damage to the nets and increasing the average catch by 40 percent. Larger fish were also caught when the electronic transmitter was turned on.
Promotion of electronic transmitters
Daphne Willems, head of the WWF Finless Rivers Initiative , which sponsored the project, said: “The innovative transmitter has proven to be a win-win for the Irvine Dolphins and the riparian community, when the transmitter is on, they can Catch more fish.” “Reducing conflict between dolphins and fishermen in the Yi River is a core solution to saving all six species of finless porpoises, and we urgently need to expand the electronic transmitter program to other finless porpoise-bearing rivers in Asia,” Williams said. The number of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Irrawaddy River is less than 100, so the introduction of electronic transmitters in Myanmar’s major rivers is also an important task. In addition, the transmitters help other finless porpoises avoid fishing nets, while also preventing sight-impaired Ganges and Indo puffer dolphins from becoming trapped in irrigation channels. Anyone can join the crowdfunding to help procure more electronic transmitters, $5.20 for WWF to protect a metre-long net, $87 for an entire net full of transmitters—and for riparian families Offer more food. “Electronic transmitters are really useful! These small devices are so beneficial to the Yi River dolphins and fishermen. Now we need to add transmitters to fishing nets in more rivers. Please sponsor or share if you agree!” William said.