First Meeting of the New Dugong Technical Advisory Group

The newly formed Dugong Technical Advisory Group (TAG) met for the first time on 03 April to discuss key priorities ahead of the planned Dugong MOU Meeting of Signatories (MOS) in 2024.

The new TAG is comprised of 15 members representing a spectrum of the dugong range states and most major dugong regions, all leading experts in the field of dugong and seagrass ecology and conservation.

Following a review of the TAG Terms of Reference and agreement of frequency and timing of future meetings, the TAG discussed invitations to potential additional members to better represent SE Asia range states.

Mr. Gabriel Grimsditch presented on the current priorities of the Dugong MOU and highlighted the projects which the TAG would be required to provide support.

In particular, it was decided that the TAG would contribute to an ongoing review and update of the Dugong MOU Conservation Management Plan (CMP) and National Reporting Template, with a view to presenting the revised documents at the 4th MOS in 2024. It was agreed that the CMP requires revisions to clarity of language and to include current concerns such as climate change and marine litter and pollution.

Prof Helene March and James Cook University will be updating the 2001 UNEP publication, ‘Dugong: status report and action plans for countries and territories’, with TAG members assistance in gathering data and articles from the dugong range states and regions.

The review of applications to the Dugong MOU 2023 Small Grants Scheme was discussed and several TAG members agreed to provide feedback to the Secretariat on applications from their range states.

The TAG also raised the prospect of re-initiating a dugong genetics project, with particular focus on East Africa and Western Indian Ocean dugong populations. The Dugong MOU will continue discussions on this and provide an update at the next TAG meeting.

The next TAG meeting will be scheduled for September/October 2023.