20 February 2013: The Second Signatory State Meeting for the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MoU) convened from 19-20 February, in Manila, the Philippines, acknowledged progress in the conservation of the dugong, while four new Signatories – Bangladesh, Egypt, Somalia and Sudan – joined the MoU.
Dugongs are threatened by capture in net fishing gear and habitat degradation, as well as by severe storm events which can destroy the critical seagrass beds on which the animals depend. The Dugong MoU, which was concluded in 2007 under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to protect endangered sea cow species, is coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/CMS Abu Dhabi Office, which is hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Second Signatory State Meeting pointed to progress in dugong conservation, noting ten new Signatories since the first meeting in 2010, as well as a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Project proposed for seven countries. Twenty-six countries participated in the meeting, with a joint ceremony welcoming the newest Signatories of Bangladesh, Egypt, Somalia and Sudan. The most recent “Report of the Secretariat on MoU Implementation” notes that expressions of interest to sign the Dugong MOU have also been received from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Somalia, and that since 2010, eight States have signed the MoU, bringing the total to 21 Signatories.
In conjunction with the Meeting, an international workshop of the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project was also held, with the seven GEF Partner Countries and the four GEF Supporting Partners in attendance.