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Priority actions for dugong and seagrass conservation in Solomon Islands
- Dugongs (Dugon dugon) are seagrass community specialists that inhabit warm coastal and island areas from tropical to subtropical Indo-West Pacific waters. They feed primarily on seagrass. In August 2018, dugongs became protected under the Fisheries Management (Prohibited Activities) Regulations 2018. It is now prohibited to fish for, retain, be in possession of, buy or sell dugongs. It is punishable through a 40,000 penalty unit fine, 4 months imprisonment, or both. Dugongs hold high cultural significance in parts of Solomon Islands. Most people know what a dugong is and where it can be found, but there is little understanding of its biology and ecological importance. People are more aware of the importance of coral reefs and mangrove habitats compared to seagrass habitats. More awareness raising efforts are needed for the Fisheries Management (Prohibited Activities) Regulations 2018. Raising the profile of dugongs by focusing on traditional and cultural values could increase compliance with the regulations.