Emergency Plan To Save Last Of The Dolphins

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2020-06-02 HKT 18:13

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  • Activists warn there are only a couple of thousand Chinese white dolphins left in the Pearl River Delta and their number is declining fast. Image: Shutterstock

    Activists warn there are only a couple of thousand Chinese white dolphins left in the Pearl River Delta and their number is declining fast. Image: Shutterstock

WWF-Hong Kong and partners have put together an "emergency action plan" to save Chinese white dolphins in the Pearl River Delta, which they say are on the brink of disappearing entirely.

They warn action needs to be taken now to preserve the species' core habitats and prevent the extinction of the marine creatures.

The groups said there are only a couple of thousand dolphins in the Pearl River Delta – and their number is declining by around 3 percent every year.

In Hong Kong alone, the number has dropped by more than 80 percent in the past 15 years.

Dr Lindsay Porter, a senior research scientist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, said it is critical to save the remaining dolphin habitats in the region, as their numbers are rapidly heading below the minimum number needed to sustain the population.

"That’s why this is an emergency. This is why we have to all work together to encourage the public to become more involved, and more engaged in the work WWF are doing, because I really think we are coming to the end of the ability of the dolphins to survive much longer in Hong Kong’s waters.”

Human activity is blamed for the plight of the dolphins – with coastal developments eating into their feeding and breeding grounds, increased marine traffic striking them or disorientating them, and pollution poisoning them.

WWF-Hong Kong's Emergency Action Plan proposes that 13 core protected areas be set up, stretching from the waters west of Lantau to Dongping Harbour at the western edge of the delta.

They want these core habitats to be classed as "no-take" and "development-free".

WWF-Hong Kong's head of oceans conservation, Dr Laurence McCook, said they're working closely with partners and authorities in Guangdong to see how the areas they've identified can be cleared of fishing and mooring.