International Workshop on Dugongs in Sarawak

LAWAS (Sarawak): A three-day Southeast Asia regional workshop on the dugong, a protected species under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance, commenced Wednesday with delegates from 11 countries deliberating on the latest efforts to protect the vulnerable marine mammal.

The workshop, organised by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), is funded by the United Nations Environment Programme and Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) Office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

SFC Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation general manager Wilfred Landong said the workshop provided an avenue for deliberating and sharing the research findings on dugong conservation projects undertaken in the Southeast Asia region.

Welcoming the participants, he said the event aimed at coming up with strategic recommendations on distribution of the dugong, their habitats and risks from fisheries in the region, while also establishing collaborations on conservation and research programmes with renowned institutions.

“For Sarawak, it will be a good avenue to build our capacity and facility on dugong conservation and research,” he noted.

Describing the workshop as a historical milestone in the implementation of dugong conservation work in Malaysia, Wilfred said Lawas was selected to host the workshop as its river mouth, Kuala Lawas, had been found to be a haven for dugongs in the state.

“Kuala Lawas is the last frontier for dugong conservation in Sarawak,” he said, adding that the workshop was the second such event since the first one in Abu Dhabi last year.

Leading dugong experts attending this workshop include UNEP/CMS dugong programme officer Dr Donna Kwan, James Cook University of Australia researcher Dr David Blair and UNEP/CMS technical advisor Dr Nicolas Pilcher.

Sarawak Second Minister of Resource Planning and Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan would officially open the workshop Wednesday night. – Bernama

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