River dolphins could die out in 10 years
14th May 2003
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 on Wednesday.
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.