Cartagena, Colombia 13.02.02. IUCN's Director General, Achim Steiner, and Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a joint publication, Dugong: Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories, during the seventh special session of UNEP's Governing Council in Columbia yesterday.
Steiner said that the report provides a practical example of global collaboration on environmental issues as also shown by the current Global Ministerial Environmental Forum convening in Cartagena this week. The report, compiled by Helene Marsh, a member of the IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group has been several years in development and is the first ever global study of the enigmatic "sea cow". The publication presents a global overview of the status of the dugong and its management in the many countries that make up its range. It is hoped the report will help individual countries develop their own, more detailed conservation plans for the species.
"IUCN is proud to be part of this important collaboration. An enormous amount of work has gone into this publication by our Species Survival Commission and we are extremely pleased that UNEP is making the information and recommendations available to global audiences via the Internet," said Steiner during a press conference. The report will be printed in English and French.
Töpfer said that IUCN is one of the most important international environmental organisations, providing a platform for governments and NGOs to meet, and being supported by a large scientist network.
"Status Reports and Action Plans are critical in alerting the global community to the plight of our species - the challenge is to ensure that the recommendations are quickly implemented to reverse the fortunes of dugong populations," said Steiner.
The dugong, the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine, is long-lived and reproduces slowly. It relies on seagrasses of coastal habitats which are often under pressure from human activities. Dugongs are also impacted by pollution, disease, hunting, and incidental drowning in fishing nets. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The full publication is available on the UNEP website at http://www.unep.org/dewa/reports/dugongreport.asp
A list of all SSC species Action Plans is available here.