River dolphins could die out in 10 years

SWITZERLAND: May 16, 2003

GENEVA - A rare freshwater dolphin found only in
China's huge Yangtze River could die out within the
next 10 years unless fishing methods there change, a
global conservation body said.

And the Yangtze dolphin, the baiji, could quickly be
followed into extinction by the vaquita porpoise of
Mexico's Gulf of California, New Zealand's Hector's dolphin, and
several populations of whales, the World Conservation
Union (IUCN) said.

The warnings were issued in a new IUCN study on how the
three groups of water-dwelling mammals, collectively
known as cetaceans, are surviving at the start of the 21st
century.

"Some (conservation) progress has been made but...grave
threats to the continued existence of many cetaceans
still exist, and many are worsening," said IUCN specialist
William Perrin, one of the authors of the report.

The larger whales like the blues, humpbacks and sperm,
whose meat is prized by some nations, have long been the

focus of protection efforts and many are still under
threat.

But the IUCN said it was the lesser-known and smaller
cetaceans, often found only in developing countries,
which were in special danger.

To save it, the report said, the dolphin should be protected
from snag-line and electric fishing, while off northern
Mexico efforts had to be made to ensure the vaquita was not
caught in nets intended to sweep up fish.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE