Vanuatu is taking part in a global GEF funded Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project. VESS is the implementing partner for the Vanuatu projects and the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) and The Vanuatu Fisheries Department (VFD) are supporting partners.

›The Global Project

Title: Enhancing the effectiveness of conservation of Dugongs and their seagrass ecosystems at globally important sites in the Indian and Pacific Oceans Basins

The project is ›Funded by GEF, ›Facilitated by CMS-dugong MoU, Project managed by Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund

›Goal: To improve the conservation status of dugongs and their seagrass habitats across the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins.=

›Period: 1 Jan 2015 – 31 Dec 2019

›Geographic scope: 8 dugong range countries: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Mozambique

The projects in Vanuatu

VU1: To develop recommendations for a National Plan for conservation of dugongs and their seagrass habitats, identify areas important for dugongs and seagrass conservation in Vanuatu and to raise awareness about dugongs and seagrasses amongst the local communities in these areas.

›VU2: National Facilitating Committee for the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project.

Aims of Vu1

›To develop the Vanuatu Nation Plan for conservation of dugongs and their seagrass habitats.

›To fill the knowledge gaps and up date the information with respect to the distribution of dugongs and seagrass beds and the threats they face in Vanuatu.

›To increase awareness of the importance of conservation of dugongs and their seagrass habitats and change behaviour to those that mitigate the threats and help to conserve seagrass beds and dugongs.

›To encourage the custom landowners to create and register Community Conservation Areas (CCAs) in places identified as important for dugong conservation if they do not already exist and to incorporate dugong and seagrass conservation actions into the management plan for the CCAs.

VU1 Activities

Survey: ›Adapt the CMS Dugong and seagrass rapid assessment questionnaire survey to Vanuatu conditions, add questions relating to eco-tourism practices and translate into Bishlama.

›In country training for survey team by CMS-DTG – planned for early December.

›Conduct the survey throughout Vanuatu and by utilising the existing meetings of networks in existence in Vanuatu

›Create a map of hotspots for dugong and seagrass conservation from the results of the survey

›Awareness: Conduct awareness workshops for dugong and seagrass conservation in Vanuatu concentrating on the ‘hotspots’ identified by the survey.

›Encourage landowners in hotspot areas to create CCA and incorporate dugong and seagrass conservation actions in to the conservation plans.

National Action Plan: Develop recommendations which could be incorporated into a National dugong and seagrass action plan.

Aims of VU2

To create a national platform that gathers a wide range of stakeholders at a national level to coordinate on national projects implementation, share experience and work on removing policy barriers/ improving policies to enhance the conservation of dugongs and seagrass ecosystems.

The NFC will have three primary objectives

›1) To advise on the specific activities to be carried out on the project, taking into account the country’s specific national project proposals

2) ›To meet and regularly review project progress on the ground

3) To communicate progress and key issues to the EPSC and the National Dugong Focal Points.

›Project Outcomes

National Plan of action for seagrass and dugong conservation

›Map of hot spots for seagrass and dugong conservation

›Increased awareness in communities of importance of seagrass and dugongs and how to look after them

›CCA management plans contain dugong and seagrass conservation activities in 50% of hot spot areas