Target: President Thein Sein, President of Myanmar
Goal: Crack down on the illegal practice of “electro-fishing,” which has been harming fish and dolphins in Myanmar waters.
The new and illegal form of fishing called “electro-fishing,” which some fishermen in Myanmar use, depletes the fish supply and also harms dolphins as an unintended consequence. Electro-fishing is the method of using electrical currents in the water to stun fish, while fishermen collect copious amounts of the stunned fish with their nets. This method depletes fish, which is the main source of food for dolphins, and sometimes this method even directly results in the deaths of dolphins. If something is not done about this destructive fishing method, the fish populations will become critically low and dolphins of the affected areas of Myanmar will become extinct.
The Irrawaddy River, which is Myanmar’s largest and most commercially important river, is most affected by the electro-fishing method. The dolphin species that inhabits this main river, the Irrawaddy dolphins, is currently critically endangered in Myanmar. Over the years, the number of these dolphins dropped rapidly and now there are no more than 60 individuals in Myanmar.
The traditional fishermen of the Irrawaddy River have been working cooperatively with the dolphins for generations. The fishermen use a special whistle to signal the dolphins and the dolphins help round up fish for the fishermen to catch. This cooperative method generally increased the fishermen’s catch by nearly six times what they would catch without the dolphins’ help, and the dolphins consume any fish that escape from the fishermen’s nets. The electro-fishermen have also been using the dolphins to round up fish to stun, and the dolphins are also harmed by the shocks. This has made the dolphins wary of helping any fishermen.
Electro-fishing boats were introduced to Myanmar about ten years ago. Although the practice is illegal, and perpetrators may face three-year prison sentences and fines, electro-fishermen are not deterred from continuing their destruction of the water ecosystem.
Please sign the petition below to urge the president of Myanmar to crack down on the illegal electro-fishing practice and to monitor the fishing activities on the Irrawaddy River more closely. The Irrawaddy dolphins will not survive if this destructive fishing practice continues unhindered, and the long-cherished cooperative spirit between the traditional fishermen and dolphins will continue to deteriorate if nothing is done.
Dear President Thein Sein,
The Irrawaddy dolphins in Myanmar have been living peacefully and cooperatively with the fishermen of the Irrawaddy River for generations. However, the new and illegal practice of “electro-fishing” is starting to sever this close bond between the fishermen and dolphins, and has in effect harmed both sides. The traditional fishermen’s livelihoods are affected by the diminishing fish supply, and the dolphins are often harmed by the underwater shocks and are finding it difficult to find abundant food sources.
Please enforce stringent laws to ban the illegal electro-fishing method. The current punishments for electro-fishing perpetrators are clearly not enough to deter the fishermen from continuing this practice. The survival of the Irrawaddy dolphins is in your hands.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Stefan Brending via Wikimedia Commons