Abu Dhabi, March 15, 2017: A two-day seagrass and dugong technical workshop started in Abu Dhabi today following the Third Meeting of Signatories (MOS3) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MOU) which was held from 13th -14th March.
The workshop is organised in collaboration with the CMS Dugong MOU Secretariat, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), TOTAL and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh.
Complementing the theme of MOS3 to build the capacity of participants to become catalysts for community change for seagrass and dugong conservation, the workshop is being delivered by the CMS Dugong MOU's Dugong Technical Group, who are internationally recognised for their expertise which includes dugong population assessment and biology, seagrass assessment, assessment of seagrass ecosystem services and community drivers for conservation.
Attended by researchers, conservation practitioners and marine resource managers, the workshop will help participants identify how and when to apply different research tools, such as the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit, methods for the conservation of seagrass ecosystems and the animals upon which they depend such as dugongs. In addition, the workshop encourages the collection of standardised and scientifically robust data on dugong populations, seagrass ecosystems and the related coastal communities.
During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to work through practical real-world examples of seagrass and dugong research scenarios to identify the most appropriate methodology to apply in a given situation using the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit.
In addition, the workshop will offer guidance in fund-raising and communication strategies to help organisations to secure ongoing funding for their dugong and seagrass projects, and to promote and showcase the work they are already doing.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial & Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD said: "The Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit, which is a collaboration between EAD, TOTAL, Total Abu Al Bukhoosh, the CMS Dugong MOU and the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project, represents a significant contribution to the techniques and tools available for dugong and seagrass conservation research globally.
"Systematic understanding of the overall status of dugongs and seagrass ecosystems across the Indo-Pacific region is hampered by inconsistencies in approaches by dugong range states to research, monitoring, data collection and reporting. Therefore, we are confident that the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit as an online decision-support tool will help dugong range states to identify the most appropriate methodologies to collect standardised and comparable data given their specific circumstances" Dr. Al Dhaheri added.
Dr. Donna Kwan, Head of the CMS Dugong MOU Secretariat said: "We acknowledge and thank TOTAL and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh, along with EAD, for their significant support and initiative in developing the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit".
Dr. Kwan noted that the Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit has been developed by a team of technical advisors from the CMS Dugong MOU's Dugong Technical Group. The Toolkit is designed for use by marine natural resource managers (government and non-government), researchers and decision-makers in dugong Range States. It is developed in a way that will make it accessible for all users, including those with limited technical experience and/or knowledge in dugong and seagrass research and those who are not native English-speakers.
Mr. Hatem Nuseibeh, President Total E&P UAE and Group Representative in the UAE, commented, "Total UAE and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh are proud to have supported EAD's dugong research and conservation initiatives since 1999. Thanks to EAD's conservation efforts, which include declaring the region's largest marine protected area, the dugong population in Abu Dhabi has remained stable. We are committed to working closely with EAD and its partners stakeholder community to ensuring these charismatic components of our natural heritage are here to be enjoyed and revered by future generations."