SANDAKAN: Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research (FOSTER) unveiled its new executive committee during its annual general meeting at the Sandakan Yacht Club on Saturday.
In 2013, Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department and promptly set up a turtle conservation program on Libaran Island here.
The program includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran Island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtle for international and local students.
To meet the objectives, Alexander Yee, managing director of Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd, has set up FOESTER in 2013.
Since then, FOSTER has sponsored 12 local villagers to undergo an Honorary Wildlife Warden course and subsequently provided employment for them to take care of the turtle hatchery, Taman Hadiah on Libaran island.
Turtle landings on the island have seen a marked increase and since November 2011 till January 2015, 25,939 baby turtles have been released into the ocean from Taman Hadiah, of which 16,406 are Green Turtles and 9,533 are Hawsbill Turtles.
Last year, FOSTER together with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and private companies such as ABC Tours Sdn Bhd, Traverse Tours Sdn Bhd and Sepilok Tropical Wildlife Adventures Sdn Bhd, worked with the villagers and have successfully cleaned up Libaran shoreline on a daily basis for the whole year.
Poised for the next phase of growth for FOSTER, a new team of executive committee (exco) members were elected and they will be leading FOSTER for the next two years.
They are president: Alexander Yee, vice president: James Leong, treasurer: Elsie Gidai, secretary: Noor Hafizah, deputy secretary: Yusof Teppo, committee: Haslin Gaffor and Melchor Alsisto, Advisors: Dr James Eng and Dr Juanita Joseph.
After the election, Yee expressed his appreciation for the commitment of the new exco members.
He noted that the new team has a good balance consisting of media friends, tourism players, finance institution staff and academic. He also said that the exco members age group varies and allows for long-term continuality.
The new exco members later brainstormed among themselves and formulated the action plans for the next 12 months.
The plans include the continuation of the community beach cleaning on Libaran island, the production of a booklet on Sea Turtle Volunteer Program on Libaran Island, the engagement of FORSTER with other similar interest NGOs or groupings within Sabah and more collaboration with related government agencies such as the Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Parks towards the conservation and protection of sea turtles.
Yee will also be leading the new team to make courtesy visits to various government agencies.