Signatories to the CMS Dugong MOU commit to adopting and implementing measures to conserve dugongs and their seagrass habits, as guided by the Conservation and Management Plan(CMP). The Secretariat facilitates and coordinates actions under the CMP through the Dugong, Seagrass and Coastal Communities Initiative.
The Priority Areas of Action for the Secretariat, as endorsed by the Third Meeting of Signatories to the Dugong MOU include:
Incentive Based Projects: From Concept Development to Implementation– the Secretariat will continue to develop the incentive-based approach to catalyse community change by:
- Actively working with dugong Range States, communities, strategic and implementing partners, the private sector (including the agricultural, energy, fisheries and tourism sectors), non-governmental organisations, governments, and the Dugong Technical Group to strengthen participation in conservation and develop incentive-based approaches to conserve seagrass ecosystems and the services they provide to achieve the objectives of the CMP and create sustainable livelihoods.
- Targeting a range of potential funding opportunities and investors including for sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity, which prioritise coordinated regional projects that span multiple countries. Where appropriate, specific national or site-based projects may also be pursued as pilot projects, which can be up-scaled and replicated in other dugong Range States.
- Identifying and applying innovative financial mechanisms that can provide sustainable funding such as social enterprises, public/private partnerships and other mixed environment-economic models for implementing partners.
- Seeking opportunities that contribute to the development of sustainably financed, community supported and locally-managed marine protected areas (LMMAs) as well as other conservation actions which enhance the resilience of seagrass ecosystems and improve livelihoods in coastal communities.
Gulf Collaboration Concept and Red Sea Collaboration– the seagrass habitats of the Arabian Gulf in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support one of the largest known dugong populations in the world. While there has been some effort to assess the population of dugongs in the Gulf region, the dugong’s current conservation status in the Arabian Gulf is classified as ‘Data Deficient’. In 1986 an extensive first assessment covered nearly all the dugong habitats in the Arabian Gulf (34,144 km2) and estimated a population of approximately 6,000 dugongs. Since this report, with the exception of the UAE, there have been few sporadic aerial surveys in the last 20 years in the region.
Given the global significance of the dugong population in the Gulf and Red Sea region, the need to update the conservation status and to identify key threats and conservation interventions is urgently required the Secretariat continues to work with Range States to achieve this.
Implementation and Utilisation of Existing Resources and Tools– the Secretariat has developed and supported a number of useful dugong and seagrass conservation resources. The Secretariat will provide focused direction, feedback and technical support relating to capacity building and collaboration opportunities to ensure that these tools are embraced and utilised by relevant stakeholders, effectively implemented, and results and lessons learnt communicated. Tools include the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit and the CMS Dugong MOU Standardised Dugong Catch and Bycatch Questionnaire.
Review of the Conservation and Management Plan–According to paragraph 12 of the Dugong MOU, “[t]he Conservation and Management Plan is an integral part of this Memorandum of Understanding”. As a living document, it is therefore important that the Conservation and Management Plan remains relevant and considers emerging issues as well as international mandates. To this end, it is critical to conduct a fundamental review to examine and, if necessary, revise the Conservation and Management Plan before the Fourth Meeting of Signatories to the Dugong MOU.
Collaborations– the Secretariat is working to develop a range of partnerships that can assist in the development and implementation of dugong and seagrass related projects and initiatives. Pursuing partnerships with the corporate sector provides the Secretariat with an opportunity to identify sustainable funding mechanisms that can be channelled toward the protection of seagrass ecosystems and the services they provide.
Capacity Building– The Secretariat recognises that building capacity for dugong and seagrass conservation is essential to achieving the goals of the Dugong MOU and the Conservation and Management Plan. The Secretariat will continue to prioritise building the capacity of Signatory States including by empowering Signatory States to make use of the Dugong Technical Group and other local expertise available to them.
The core activities of the Secretariat include:
- Providing efficient, effective and timely support to Signatories (and non-signatory Range States) to promote and assist the implementation of the Dugong MOU and associated Conservation and Management Plan.
- Providing administrative support to the Dugong Technical Group, including organising face-to-face meetings, subject to available resources; and
- Ensuring that threats to dugongs are mainstreamed and properly addressed within other cross-cutting marine-related initiatives led by the CMS Secretariat.