The proposals were put forward at a meeting in Krabi on Tuesday (July16) headed by Marine and Coastal Resources Department Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat. Also present were Rear Admiral Nunthapon Mararat of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command and Krabi Vice Governors Somkuan Kunngen and Sompot Chotichuchuang.
So far this year 15 dead dugongs have washed ashore or been found in the sea off the coast of the southern provinces, much higher than the yearly average, the meeting was told.
Mr Jatuporn unveiled a plan comprising short-term, mid-term and long-term phases.
The short-term plans consists of calling on locals and fishermen to take care of dugongs’ food sources; the middle-term plan consists of collecting information and coordinating with other marine organisations; while long-term plan is to identify and set up a protection zone for dugong conservation over the next five years, he explained.
“At the moment, relevant state agencies coordinate with marine organisations to take care of sick or beached dugongs,” Mr Jatuporn said.
“Next year, a meeting of experts from around the world is scheduled to take place in Trang province where dugong protection will be discussed,” he added.
Providing adequate care and protection for dugongs has the become the focus of attention in the media and among the public this, with marine officials saying that fishing equipment had killed 10 of the 15 dead dugongs found. Rope marks were also found on the remaining five.
Local conservation groups are blaming the situation on the rising sea temperatures, illegal fishing and the hunt for dugong tusks to make amulets. (See story here.)
Heightened public focus on the plight of dugongs has risen greatly this year after two baby dugongs were found washed ashore in Krabi and Trang provinces.
The dugongs were taken into care and bestowed the names Yamil and Marium by Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya.
Yamil is now being cared for at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) at Cape Panwa, while Mariam is receiving care from PMBC marine biologists in Trang.
A 24-hour live stream of both dugongs receiving treatment and care has been been made available so the public can keep up to date with their recovery.
To see the live stream footage, click here.