CMS Dugong MOU Standardised Catch and Bycatch Questionnaire

Executive Summary

The Dugong MOU Secretariat provided funding to enable a partnership with the Marine Research Foundation and a team of global experts to develop and implement a Questionnaire which could be implemented at low cost across large geographical areas, and that generates standardised data sets. The Questionnaire was designed to collect data on dugongs, as well as marine turtles and cetaceans, and has resulted in a large data set of dugong numbers and distribution across a significant portion of the dugong’s geographic range.


The Questionnaire was initially deployed in 18 countries spanning four key geographic areas (East Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Southwestern Pacific) with 6153 respondents. The results of the Questionnaires provide the latest information on the distribution and abundance of dugong populations in these areas, while identifying and mapping areas of important dugong habitats such as seagrass beds, and assessing the relative risks to distinct populations from fisheries.

The Questionnaire has also been used to gather more information on dugong distribution, trends and threats in Egypt (200 respondents), Indonesia (124), Malaysia (900), Mozambique (184), the Solomon Islands (32) and Vanuatu (217) – a total of 7810 respondents to date. The flexibility and low cost of implementing the Questionnaire means that countries can rapidly assimilate a snapshot of the distribution of dugongs and fishery overlaps, and identify hotspot areas where conservation action might be needed.

Using the Questionnaire

The Questionnaire consists of the following documents which can be found below under ‘other documents’:

  • Project Manual (2012)
  • Questionnaire (2016)
  • Short Questionnaire (2016)
  • Data Upload Sheet (2017)

The Project Manual provides detailed instructions on using the Questionnaire. The manual provides background information as well as guidance on interview survey design, field data collection and control and how to upload graphics and spatial data. It is recommend that researchers read the manual before designing a research programme using the Questionnaire.

The Questionnaire was updated in early 2016 and consists of 106 questions covering interviewee background, dugong catch/bycatch, perceptions, fishery information, sea turtle catch/bycatch, and dolphin catch/bycatch. 

The short version of the Questionnaire is designed for use in follow up interviews, once the original Questionnaire has been completed. The short Questionnaire consists of ten questions.

The Data Upload Sheet was updated in late 2017. By following the instructions in the excel spreadsheet and the Project Manual, users can upload the data from their completed Questionnaires into the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will then produce a number of charts that depict the results of the Questionnaires.


In January 2017 the CMS Dugong MOU Standardised Dugong Catch and Bycatch Questionnaire Final Report was released. The report provides background information on the development of the Questionnaire, how it was implemented as well as a regional analysis of the results of the Questionnaire. This project provides information on dugong numbers, trends in captures and evidence of fisher-dugong interactions for a large part of the dugong’s range that was previously unavailable, and provides a stepping-stone to more focused research in the areas where dugongs were found to exist and where fishery pressures were high.

In December 2017, a paper on the project was published in PLOS one titled A low-cost solution for documenting distribution and abundance of endangered marine fauna and impacts from fisheries.


The information collected by the surveys can assist in determining the distribution and abundance of dugong populations, help identify and map areas of important dugong habitat such as sea grass beds, and assess the risk of, and develop measures to mitigate degradation of dugong populations and their habitats. The standardised survey protocol can also be of great benefit for comparisons within and across regions.

The objective is to create an alternative and cost-effective approach to interview fishers to help identify dugong trouble spots where there are any low number of dugongs. Identifying any areas where dugongs are likely to be killed by hunting capture or vessel strikes. The standardised, culturally-appropriate surveys can be done quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. 

Related content

No pictures for CMS Dugong MOU Standardised Catch and Bycatch Questionnaire

Implementing AgencyMarine Research Foundation

Activity start dateMarch 2010
Activity end dateJanuary 2017
CMS AppendixAppendix II
Taxonomic groupMarine mammals
Target regionAfrica
Indian Ocean
South Pacific
South-East Asia
South-West Asia
Final technical reportYes

Unsustainable fishing and harvesting aquatic resources
Habitat loss and degradation
Human Disturbance