Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for National Development (a) whether NParks is currently tracking the endangered dugong population and movements in coastal waters; and (b) what measures are being taken or planned to study and conserve unprotected seagrass meadows near Singapore’s coast that form refuges for the dugong population and are critical nursery sites for other economically and ecologically important marine organisms.
Mr Desmond Lee: As part of the Nature Conservation Masterplan, NParks conducts regular surveys to monitor the health of our habitats and the biodiversity they support, including marine animals such as dugongs. To better detect the presence and prevalence of dugongs and other marine animals within our waters, NParks is working with researchers to pilot several remote monitoring methods, such as the use of environmental DNA and acoustic monitoring.
Since 2007, NParks has also been working with volunteers to monitor the health and extent of seagrass meadows near Singapore’s coast. We have also collaborated with industry and academia on research to better understand seagrass dispersal patterns, their resilience to environmental stressors such as changes in light availability, and their potential for restoration. Such research informs our efforts to conserve and enhance Singapore’s seagrass habitats, and contributes to the identification of core coastal habitats as part of NParks’ Ecological Profiling Exercise.
We will continue to take a science-based approach to safeguard Singapore’s marine biodiversity, including further research to better document and understand our diverse marine habitats and wildlife.
Ministry of National Development
29 November 2022