The Action Plan for the Conservation of Freshwater Populations of Irrawaddy Dolphins (Smith et al. 2007; also see Kreb and Budiono 2005) recommended that core conservation zones be established in the Mahakam at key river confluences, including of about 10 km of river in both upstream and downstream directions. The Action Plan also recommended a strict ban on gillnetting in the proposed core conservation zones, to be implemented on a step-wise basis as alternative gears or employment options are provided. Outside the core conservation zones, current regulations prohibiting the use of gillnets with a mesh size of 10 cm or greater should be enforced (Kreb et al. 2007 found that most of the documented deaths of
Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mahakam were due to entanglement in nets of mesh size 10-18 cm). Additional regulations requiring net attendance and prohibiting nighttime fishing also should be adopted. The use of large coal barges in narrow tributaries needs to be replaced by some form of land transport. Regular patrols are needed to prevent illegal fishing techniques such as electro-fishing, poison, and trawling, and better protection is needed for fish spawning sites in and near areas with high densities of dolphins.
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