WWF-Malaysia calls for better sea turtle awareness and conservation
Sea turtles have travelled great distances across the world's oceans for centuries and face many dangers during their journeys. Sadly, humans’ ignorance have attributed to the loss of these marine creatures. This includes the consumption and trade of turtle eggs, direct capture of turtles for their meat and shell, fishery-related mortality (accidental death in the nets and long-lines of fishing fleets), poorly planned coastal development, marine and nesting beach pollution leading to loss of nesting and feeding habitats, unsustainable tourism, and climate change.
Sea turtles’ survival is critical as they help maintain the health of sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit commercially-valuable species such as reef fishes, shrimp, lobster, and tuna. They attract marine tourists and are considered charismatic by divers and non-divers. Turtles are also flagship species for both local and regional conservation, and conserving these species and their habitats will protect wide marine areas on which both marine and human species are dependent upon.
Recognising the urgent need to save these creatures, WWF-Malaysia heightens its turtle conservation efforts in Terengganu and Malacca.
Ms Lau Min Min, Senior Marine Conservation Officer, Conservation of Hawksbill Turtles & Painted Terrapins of Melaka, WWF-Malaysia, explained, “We constantly work on three main turtle conservation components in the State: nesting habitat and egg protection, hatchling dispersal pattern research, and engaging local communities in turtle conservation.”
“Our work in Kerteh and Setiu focuses on turtle nesting beach monitoring, working closely with government departments and local rangers to manage turtle hatcheries and monitor nesting females,” added Ms Sharifah Ruqaiyah Syed Mustafa, Senior Marine Conservation Officer, Terengganu Turtle Conservation, WWF-Malaysia.
In line with WSTD, WWF-Malaysia in Malacca has planned a series of awareness activities revolving on the slogan, ‘Penyu Karah Melaka: Jual pun tidak, makan pun tidak’ or ‘Malacca’s Hawksbill Turtle: Not for Sale, Not for Consumption’. While in Terengganu, WWF-Malaysia’s Turtle project team is organising relevant activities focusing on ‘Telur Penyu Dibiar Tetas, BUKAN untuk Dijual’ or ‘Hatch My Eggs, They are NOT for Sale’. An upcoming turtle fun run and Terengganu Turtle Camp will be held in Ma’Daerah Turtle Sanctuary, Kerteh from 18 to 20 August.
In the context of legislation, turtle protection laws are inadequate and current Federal laws on turtles are limited. Under the Federal Constitution, each respective state has the authority in making its own laws on turtles. State laws vary from each state and are inadequate in combating human practices of consuming turtle eggs.
Everybody should work together and play their roles. The law on turtle egg consumption and sale should be amended and additional resources and enforcement on the ground should be heightened to protect and manage key nesting and feeding habitats. The public should, in turn, help by not consuming eggs or meat and not buying souvenirs made of turtle parts. Local communities which found turtles empowering should be engaged and involved in turtle conservation work and environmental stewardship. With strong, combined efforts, let us hope that sea turtles survive for years to come.
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For further information:
Kimberly Chung, Communications and Campaigns Officer, Marine Programme, WWF-Malaysia (Sabah office), Tel: +60 88 262 420, Ext.37, Email: email@example.com