Story | 18 Dec, 2017

Policy and practice: A holistic approach to protecting Thailand's dugongs

On 25 October, 120 representatives from the private sector, government and civil society participated in a meeting to develop a collaborative action plan to holistically manage and monitor all human impacts on the dugong habitat and life cycle in Koh Libong sub-district. 

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Photo: John Smallwood -

The meeting was organised by the local fishery network of Trang Province, as part of a project supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) – for which IUCN is an implementing body in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot – to improve dugong conservation at provincial and local levels. In addition to the action plan, a provincial strategic direction for dugong and biodiversity conservation in Trang province was initiated, and a provincial committee for dugong conservation established.

The conservation tools formulated at the meeting were informed by the Koh Libong Sub-district Administration Organisation regulations on dugong conservation, which identified a conservation zone for dugongs, wingshells and sea cucumbers. Threats to the conservation zone include illegal fishery activities, wastewater discharge from a rubber processing factory and solid waste from Koh Libong. The meeting conceived possible waste and wastewater management strategies, and planned joint marine patrols that would include communities as well as Non-Hunting Area officials to combat illegal fishing.

Group photo       Photo: © Save Andaman Network

Participants then drafted policy recommendations for provincial strategies on dugong conservation, including legalisation of dugong and biodiversity conservation committees at provincial levels. These were sent to the provincial governor for review following the meeting.

As the continuation of the CEPF-supported project, the local fishery network of Trang Province – with technical support from the Save Andaman Network (SAN) and continued support from CEPF – began implementing dugong habitat conservation at the grassroots level by strengthening the capacity of the Koh Libong Women's Network to advocate for protection of their resources. Within the community, they are the most heavily dependent on these resources for their livelihoods, and are therefore crucial stakeholders in the conservation of the ecosystem as a whole.

By enhancing the ability of women to advocate for the protection of their own resources, SAN seeks to not only spread public knowledge of the conservation laws, but also emphasise their importance to the well-being of the community. By adhering to fishing and marine resources harvesting policies – and encouraging that behaviour among their families and communities – women can safeguard their livelihoods and thereby protect dugongs as well.

Founded in 2000, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a global leader in enabling civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems by providing grants for organisations to help protect biodiversity hotspots, Earth’s most biologically rich yet threatened areas. CEPF is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de DéveloppementConservation International (IUCN Member), the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan (IUCN State Member), the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

IUCN is leading the second phase of CEPF's work in the Indo-Burma hotspot, working together with the Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN) and Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) to form the CEPF Regional Implementation Team (RIT).