August 20, 2016

World endangered Dugongs spotted off Rakhine coast

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DUGONGS, medium-sized aquatic mammals which are included on a list of the world endangered animals, have been spotted along a stretch of Rakhine coastline between Laung Kyo and Kan Tharyar beach in Gwa township, as well as around the Sunpan Kyaung beach of Mann Aung Island, according to the Kyauk Phyu district Department of Fisheries.
“Studies have shown that the dugong species has become an endangered species not just in Asia but in the whole world. There are only two areas along the Rakhine coastline where they still remain. A dugong died in December of last year after it got entangled in a fishing net off the coast of Mann Aung Island. Fishing vessels which encounter dugongs becoming caught in their nets are prohibited from killing them for food and have been instructed to release them back into the ocean. Unfortunately, few follow these regulations.” said U Htun Tin, head of the Kyauk Phyu township Department of Fisheries.
The Kyauk Phyu township Department of Fisheries started carrying out of a series of awareness campaigns during December, 2015 explaining how fishing was not allowed in known grazing areas of dugongs and that fisherman must immediately release a dugong should it become trapped in one of their fishing nets.
“It’s difficult to carry out research on the numbers of grazing Dugongs. There still aren’t any efforts being made to conserve sea-grass in the regions which the Dugong habitually settle in for grazing and reproduction.” continued U Htun Tin. As such, there is a need for areas rich in the volume of sea-grass to be designated ‘no fishing’ zones in a bid to prevent the extinction of this endangered species. The Kyauk Phyu township Department of Fisheries has made it known that they will carry out activities to ensure offshore fishing vessels and trawlers avoid such regions so that sea-grass can thrive without being destroyed.
But not all Dugong die as a result of being accidentally entangled in the nets of fishing vessels. “The Dugong have a habit of getting caught up in fishing nets during the start and end of the rainy season. Last June, a Dugong pup was caught in our nets but we released it straight away as it still showed signs of life.” explained U Kyaw Thar, a local fishermen from Mann Aung township.
There are over ten species of animals included on the world endangered species list including the dugong, the manatee and seven species of turtles, while five of those species of turtles come to Thamein Hla Island in Ayeyawady Region to have their young on the beach before returning back into the ocean, according to the Kyauk Phyu district Department of Fisheries.


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