Fisheries investigating killing of dugong at IfiraThe Director of Fisheries Department, Moses Amos, has confirmed that eye witnesses have witnessed a dugong (Sea Cow) being killed on the Southern end of Ifira Island on July 18 (Wednesday) in the morning.
Mr Amos stated: “It has been said that those involved claimed for it being caught on their fishing nets and also eating the fish off their nets which is not true on the dugong’s part as its main diet does not include fish or any meat but rather sea grass and algae.
“The Department of Fisheries is well aware of the incident and is further investigating the matter.
“Members of the public are hereby advised that according to the Fisheries Act Cap 315 No. 55 of 2005 dugongs are classified as “Marine Mammals” and Section 37 subsection (1) states that A person must not kill, harm, harass, take or move any marine mammal in the Vanuatu Whale Sanctuary.
“Also according to the Fisheries Act, “Vanuatu Whale Sanctuary” means all Vanuatu waters, therefore such actions are condemned under national legislation, international treaties and conventions on the protection of marine life.
“Members of the public should be made aware that dugongs, dolphins, porpoises and whales are endangered species and need utmost protection from harm and danger.
“Since Vanuatu has now become a popular tourist destination it would be unwise to not take precautionary measures to protect and conserve our wildlife whether on land or at sea.
“The penalty of breaching this Act is a fine for not more than Vatu 50,000,000 or a term of imprisonment not more than 2 years or both.
“Ignorance of the law is not a defense, inexcusable and cannot be tolerated. Let this be a warning to the Vanuatu population that killing, harming, harassing, taking or moving any marine mammal in Vanuatu waters is prohibited.
“Therefore conservation and protection of our marine resources is everyone’s business for our present and future generation,” Fisheries Director Mr Amos said.