From: Alisa Tang, Associated Press
Published October 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Conservation Meeting Votes to Prohibit Trade of Endangered Dolphin

BANGKOK, Thailand — An international conference to regulate trade in animals and plants agreed recently to prohibit trade of the Irrawaddy dolphin, concluding that they are so rare that even sales to aquariums are a threat to the species.


The 166 member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) placed the Irrawaddy dolphin in Appendix I, joining species including apes and tigers who are so endangered that international commercial trade is not allowed, said a news release from the World Wildlife Fund.


"Stopping the live capture of Irrawaddy dolphins for display in aquariums is an important step in ensuring a future for the species," the release said.


"Most legitimate zoos and aquariums already refuse to display Irrawaddy dolphins because of their endangered status and because they don't live long in captivity, but there remains an active trade in them for dolphin shows and water parks across Asia," the release quoted Karen Steuer, WWF senior policy adviser, as saying.


The decision, taken by a committee of specialists concerned with the issue, becomes final and binding when formally endorsed by a full meeting of CITES at the end of next week.


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Twelve Irrawaddy dolphins were on display late last year at Oasis Sea World in Chantaburi province, 250 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of Bangkok, the Thai capital. Police investigated the marine park after a Singaporean conservation group, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, complained that it had illegally exported six wild dolphins to Singapore.


Thailand proposed moving the Irrawaddy dolphin from Appendix II, which allows licensed trading, to Appendix I.


The main threat to the Irrawaddy dolphin is drowning in fishing nets, the WWF release said.


There has been no recent global census of Irrawaddy dolphins, but WWF estimates that there are only a few hundred Irrawaddy dolphins left in waters around the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Australia.


Source: Associated Press


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