14 March, 2011, Palau - The campaign to progress the protection of the dugong, led by the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and its partner the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS), will target local coastal and fishing communities and water craft users in the Pacific region.
Awareness and outreach activities highlighting the need for protection of dugongs in the Pacific Islands region will be the focus of the campaign being initiated through national launches in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
A number of initiatives to build local capacity to deliver positive conservation outcomes for dugongs in the Pacific Island region will also be promoted throughout the Pacific Year of the Dugong.
A new pilot project using financial incentives to address direct hunting and the incidental capture of dugongs by changing people's practices and improving the livelihoods of local communities in Daru Papua New Guinea are among the initiatives to be promoted under the Pacific Year of the Dugong 2011.
Dugongs, which play a significant ecological role in the functioning of coastal habitats, live in warm coastal and islands waters from East Africa to Vanuatu in the Pacific.
The conservation and plan developed under the United Nations Environment Programme/CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MoU) provides the framework for the regional cooperation for the long-term protection of dugongs in the Indian Ocean, South East Asia, South Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Specific to the Pacific Islands region, SPREP has a regional Dugong Action Plan 2008-2012.
All range states in the Pacific Island region (Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) have committed to the Dugong MoU as signatories. In 2010 Palau declared a marine mammal sanctuary, which includes dugongs, within its Economic Exclusive Zone.
For more information on the Pacific Year of the Dugong 2011, please visit www.sprep.org/biodiversity/PYOD