Conservation of dugong in Phu Quoc Islands, Vietnam

Quang Vo Van

The dugong (Dugong dugon) is a precious marine mammal and a threatened species. The dugong has a range that spans 37 countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans ranging from east Africa to Vanuatu. Dugong’s population is the most abundant of any species belonging to the order Sirenia, which includes the manatee. Despite its potential national and regional significance, the current understanding of the dugong’s population in the Phu Quoc Islands, Vietnam are very limited. Due to a lack of understanding of biological and ecological characteristics of the dugong, as well as its role in the coastal and marine ecosystem, dugong are still hunted by fisherman and a certain number are accidentally caught by fishing nets. Additionally, the traditional use of dugong for medicinal purposes and consumption of meat is still significant. This project will assess dugong populations in the waters around Phu Quoc Islands, Kien Giang province; study the seagrass habitat of dugong; and raise awareness for the local authorities and communities and facilitate their involvement in future conservation management.