Promoting sustainable fishing to conserve the last river dolphins in Nepal

Gopal Khanal

Reducing accidental entanglements and mortalities in fishing nets is one of the key challenges for ensuring the survival of the Ganges river dolphin population in the Karnali River, Nepal. This population is the only potentially viable and the last remaining population of river dolphins in Nepal. The main purpose of this project is to reduce the direct threat of mortalities/entanglements in nets by reducing the use of such fishing gear. This will be achieved by engaging the fishing community to develop locally agreed sustainable fishery guidelines and empowering them with conservation education to ensure compliance with the guidelines. Outreach events, community meetings, stakeholder workshops, trans-boundary meetings, and media engagement will also be undertaken to achieve the project's purpose. The expected results include a reduction in the use of harmful gill nets, an assessment of the frequency of their deployment in areas identified as major dolphin hotspots and reported accidental entanglement in fishing nets, and an improvement in the conservation status of river dolphins. Fishermens' attitudes towards river dolphins and sustainable fishing will also be enhanced with an increase in compliance to sustainable fishing practices. This project will contribute to the recently developed Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2020-2024) and leverage policy support to integrate sustainable fishery management and river dolphin conservation issues into the national priority agenda.

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