Workshop participants in Munda. Photo courtesy of Len McKenzie.
Munda, Solomon Islands, 8 March 2018 – Dr Donna Kwan from the CMS Dugong MOU Secretariat attended the Dugong and Seagrass Workshop, held from 5-8 March 2018 in Munda, Solomon Islands. The Workshop, hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project brought together delegates from four of the five Pacific island dugong range states.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss concerns over the declining status of seagrass and dugong populations in the region; to review the progress of the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; and to provide feedback on SPREP’s Dugong Action Plan 2018-2022.
In addition to the dugong range state delegates from New Caledonia, Palau, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the meeting was also attended by representatives from Seagrass-Watch, Pacific Community (SPC), UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), University of Newcastle, University of Queensland, EnerGaia and the Tetepare Descendants’ Association.
The meeting provided Dr Kwan with the opportunity to highlight the conservation tools already available including the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit, the CMS Dugong MOU Standardised Dugong Catch and Bycatch Questionnaire and the Genetic Sampling Protocol.
After four days of discussions, participants agreed that the completion of the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project should provide a platform for more investment in the mapping of seagrass, greater collaboration between range states, stronger technical support from developed countries and their academic and research institutions, awareness-raising of the ecological value of seagrass, and better assessments of the status and trends of dugong populations. Central to the success of this vision will be the commitment of communities and governments to protect dugongs and their seagrass habitat and tangible support from SPREP, the Pacific Community (SPC) and other partners to help them to achieve this.
Participants recognised that while policy and legislation both play an important role in dugong and seagrass conservation, community support was vital, not only in ensuring compliance with existing laws protecting dugongs, but also where these do not yet exist, in lobbying for appropriate legislation and locally-based management.
Last updated on 19 March 2018