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The Pacific Year of the Dugong Awareness Campaign comes to an end

Dugong profiles for the range states in the Pacific Islands are now available. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) launched the booklet this week as part of the end of a year-long Pacific Year of the Dugong campaign in 2011.media2

This publication gives an overview of the information available on dugongs in the range states in the Pacific region and the measures they have in place to conserve and protect the "ladies of the sea".

It also highlights some of the events that took place over the year-long campaign.

"We are pleased with the work carried out to Respect and Protect the Dugong, and have achieved some excellent results that we should all celebrate," said the Director-General of SPREP, Mr David Sheppard.

"Palau declared their EEZ as a Marine Mammal Sanctuary which includes dugongs and all SPREP members that have dugongs have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats through their Range under the Convention on Migratory Species."

Even though dugongs occur in the waters of only six of SPREP member countries, the decision to declare 2011 as the Pacific Year of the Dugong received strong support and was endorsed by SPREP members at the 21st SPREP annual meeting help in Papua New Guinea in September 2010.

media4Dugongs are of high cultural value in many parts of their range as a valued source of food, medicine, and artifacts, as well as being a flagship species for coastal people and the campaign was considered necessary as they are deemed vulnerable to extinction on a global scale. The dugong population in Palau is considered the most isolated in the world and can be classified as critically endangered.

Dugongs are one of the three groups of marine animals of conservation concern on which the SPREP marine species programme focus. The others are marine turtles and cetaceans (whales and dolphins), each of which have a 5-year regional action plan.

"While the year of targeted campaign towards conserving the Dugong may be completed, the work in this area is never over," said Mr. Lui Bell the Marine Species Officer of SPREP.

"Our work to help bring about a Pacific environment that sustains our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures is ongoing. We look forward to the strengthened work to conserve our marine species, including the dugong, which follows on from this awareness campaign."

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), targeted local coastal and fishing communities and water craft users in the Pacific region.

Dugong profiles for the range states in the Pacific Islands is now available to view online or download free of charge: http://www.sprep.org/att/publication/000943_Dugong_Profile.pdf

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