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  Bernama 20 Jul 06
Dugong rescue centres at fishing villages

JOHOR BAHARU, July 20 (Bernama) -- The Fisheries Department is setting up several Dugong rescue centres in fishing villages in the south-eastern parts of Johor.

Fisheries Director-General Datuk Junaidi Che Ayob said the rescue centres, aimed at providing emergency treatment to Dugongs trapped in fishing nets or stranded on the beaches, would be set up to ensure a more effective protection of the mammal.

Speaking to reporters after opening a conference on the management and protection of Dugong here, he said despite various efforts made to protect the Dugong since the discovery of "si tenang" in 1999, there were still cases of the mammal found dead.

He said there were several factors contributing to the death of the Dugong, including shortage of food, degradation of its habitat due to land reclamation and industrial growth which resulted in pollution.

The Dugong came to Johor for the abundant sea grass.

Junaidi did not rule out the possibility of a trade embargo on the sale of the country's fish products by the big powers, like the United States of America, for Malaysia's failure to have a conservation plan for the Dugong.

He said America had imposed a "shrimp embargo" on Malaysia because it did not use a device known as the "Turtle Excluder Device" to prevent turtles from getting trapped in fishing nets.

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