BY GEORGINA KEKEA
A sculpture on a mother and calf dugong will be unveiled today at the National Art Gallery. The dugong sculpture is to bring awareness to the communities on the importance of the sea mammal in the marine eco-system.
Made by Riaz Maninga Haikiu, Brian Afia, Peter Fikiafi and their crew, this is not the first sculpture of a mother dugong and calf in the Pacific. Dugongs are classified as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species, thus this sculpture is crucial in reminding people of the importance of this mammal species.
In Solomon Islands, it is against the law to fish, retain and be in possession of, buy, sell or export dugong. Any violation of this law is punishable by four months in prison and/or SI$40,000 fine (US$5,000). The new Fisheries regulation formally prohibits dugongs hunting and trading.
The dugong is a large herbivorous marine mammal which spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The ‘Mother and Calf’ Dugong Sculpture is funded by the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project (DSCP) which is coordinated and implemented by the National Facilitating Committee (NFC) through the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP), Coastal Marine Management (CM2), and World Fish.
The GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project supports partner countries to conserve seagrass ecosystems through a combination of science and research, conservation policy development and implementation, community incentives, as well as outreach and education programmes.
The Project is executed by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MbZSCF), with financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implementation support by United Nations Environmental Program and technical support from the Convention on Migratory Species’ Dugong MoU Secretariat.