16 Mar 2011

Dugong conservation effort launched in PNG and Palau

2:26 pm on 16 March 2011

A United Nations pilot project launched in Palau and Papua New Guinea this week is using new incentives to curb direct hunting or incidental by-catch of the dugong.

Marine conservationists fear if nothing is changed, the sea cow could become extinct within 40 years.

The UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is working closely with SPREP on conservation efforts in the region after declaring 2011 the Pacific Year of the Dugong.

A liaison person for the UN organisation, Melanie Virtue, says this project focusses on encouraging sustainable livelihoods and switching fishing methods.

"Another thing we are looking at is educating people so that they'll use different fishing methods that won't harm the dugong, as well as being able to afford to change for example from gill nets to line fishing, as it costs money, so people have to be recompensed in some way. So just educating people to these small changes in their behaviour which can have big impacts on saving the dugong."

Melanie Virtue.