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  The Telegraph 12 Jul 07
Fish oil saviour for dolphins

If it is a toss-up between saving dolphins and making some money, the choice is obvious for the impoverished fishermen living on Dhubri’s north bank.

Dolphin oil is the most commonly used bait in fishing in Bihar and Assam. Fishermen believe a dash of that oil ensures a good catch.

To break that myth and provide an alternative to dolphin oil as bait, the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) — an organisation that has been spearheading “save the dolphin” campaign in Assam — sent four fishermen from the district to Patna Science College to learn the procedure of whipping up another “winning bait oil”.

When the quartet returned home last week, they tried to explain to their local friends that dolphin oil was not the only effective bait for fishing.

Hundreds of fishermen gathered at Bahadurtari to watch the scientists prepare the alternative oil from fish petu (viscera).

Lakhan Bin and Sudama Bin of Panchpeerchar said fishermen in the district were now gradually switching to the eco-friendly alternative.

The oil has been developed by scientist and conservationist Prof. R.K. Sinha and his team at Patna University.

Sinha has researched extensively on freshwater dolphins and is a member of the Cetacean Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Extracts from fish viscera are being extensively used by fishermen in Bihar as an alternative to dolphin oil.

Dolphins are hunted primarily for their blubber, which is used as fish bait in Assam and Bihar, C-NES sources said.

Only 268 dolphins now remain in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. C-NES is currently working in three districts — Tinsukia, Kamrup and Dhubri — to rein in dolphin hunters.

Related articles on Dolphins and other cetaceans and large fishes.
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