17 March 2020. The President of the Society for Marine Mammalogy—representing 2,000 scientists from 25 countries—has taken the extraordinary step of writing to high government officials in Mozambique advising strong further protection for the last viable dugong population in East Africa.
While commending the government for the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park which covers 30% of the 250-350 dugongs left, the President strongly recommended that the recently identified Bazaruto Archipelago to Inhambane Bay Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) should become an Environmental Protection Area. That would protect almost all the dugongs—as well as Indian Ocean humpback dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks—and serve to benefit local communities as part of Mozambique’s drive for a blue economy.
The full text of the letter (which follows below) advises removal of illegal gillnets, re-consideration of oil and gas developments and other necessary steps to achieve protected habitat and a successful outcome. The IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force fully supports this initiative and the letter from the SMM President.