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Source to Sea Programme

Dugong Emergency Protection Project

Recent population estimates indicate that the area in and around the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP) in Mozambique retain a dugong (Dugong dugon) population of no more than 200 individuals. These dugongs represent the Western Indian Ocean’s (WIO) single remaining viable population, and have no expectancy of survival unless they are afforded critical attention through an EMERGENCY PROTECTION PROGRAMME. Map of project area click

Dugong survival is threatened by a combination of factors including:

  1. their incidental (and sometimes intentional) capture in fishing nets (Gill nets);
  2. uncontrolled coastal and inland development leading to coastal degradation, sedimentation of estuaries, and seagrass smothering (loss of food & habitat);
  3. fishing practices (mainly beach seining) that impact on availability and type of dugong forage;
  4. unsustainable tourist development in sensitive areas;
  5. collisions with vessels; and
  6. climate change.

Given the rate of dugong population decline (30% in the last 3 generations), and the status of their diminishing seagrass habitat (also their primary food source) within the WIO, an expert Dugong Workshop was convened by the National Directorate of Conservation Areas Mozambique (DNAC) in Maputo during May 2009. The Dugong Emergency ProtectionProject (EPP) was designed through the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Source to Sea Programme in response to the most imminent threats identified by the workshop stakeholders.

Project Objectives and Outcomes:

The Dugong Emergency Protection Project seeks to secure core Dugong herds and habitat by mitigating major threats and strengthening existing structures in collaboration with the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park. The project's outcomes will enable:

  1. A reduction in destructive fishing practices that threaten dugongs and their habitat,
  2. Creation of Duging sanctuaries/ Areas of Special Protection,
  3. Mitigation of threats to Dugongs and their habitat,
  4. Revision of law enforcement strategies,
  5. The identification of alternative livelihoods for fishing communities,
  6. Long-term conservation approaches and interventions, including a sustainability plan,
  7. Fostering of Partnerships, skills development, awareness, and synergy at Government through to local level.

Project Strategy:

Gill netting has been identified as the most significant threat to Dugongs in the WIO. Most incidents of mortality have been linked to commercial netting for shark fins- particularly in the more remote areas of the Archipelago. Dugongs are not intentionally targeted, but become entangled as bycatch when nets are left unattended. Currently, no bycatch mitigation measures are enforced in Mozambique. Coupled with the fact that the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park is under-resourced, major challenges exist to mitigate Dugong bycatch and implement effective law enforcement. The EWT is thus defining an effective law enforcement strategy for the National Park, and will assist the Park focus its law enforcement activities into high risk areas, or areas that are synonymous with Dugong and seagrass occurrence.

Publications: click