Disparate legislation hinders efforts to protect turtle species

KOTA KINABALU: The lack of uniformity in legislation for the protection of marine turtles poses a stiff challenge in efforts to conserve and protect the species.

WWF Malaysia representative Gavin Jolis,explained that there have been efforts to change the Federal law with regard to the protection of marine turtles and their eggs in the country but this has been resisted by several agencies.

The fear of these agencies, he said, was that the change in the legislation may have some impact on the community.

Due to the failure to change the legislation, WWF Malaysia will work with the states in the country in the hope that it will create a ripple effect and encourage others to follow suit.

In the context of Sabah, Gavin said that the state has the largest green and hawksbill turtle population in Southeast Asia. Sabah has several nesting grounds for the turtles, among them the Turtle Island Park, which has 9,000 nests per year while in Sipadan, about 400 nests occur annually.

He said the issues facing turtle conservation in Sabah include the turtle eggs trade and the poaching of the turtles.

Gavin said that foreign fishing vessels from Vietnam and Hainan were among the culprits poaching sea turtles in Sabah. And more alarmingly is the new trend involving the local communities that carry out turtle landings and slaughtering, he said.

He reminded that green, hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles were classified under totally protected species in Sabah.

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director, Augustine Tuuga, said there was still a strong demand for turtle eggs in Sabah.


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