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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Turtle eggs leave bitter aftertaste

The Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch (MNSKB) is disappointed that some people are continuing to feast on turtle eggs although the government has imposed a ban on its consumption in the hope of conserving and protecting the reptile.

MNSKB chairperson Rebecca D’Cruz voiced her disappointment yesterday, saying that despite the best efforts of the government — both at the federal and state levels — in responding to the global call for action to save the endangered sea turtles, some parties in Sarawak were taking a lackadaisical attitude.

“I urge the state government to take the necessary action to put an end to such irresponsible action, more so at official functions,” she said when asked to comment on the news report that turtle eggs were served at an official function here recently.

The report which appeared in The Borneo Post yesterday surprised many readers and had become the talk of the town.

Turtle eggs consumption has been stopped in Sarawak because the survival rate of turtle hatchlings, at 0.1 per cent or one hatchling in every 1,000, is very low.

All marine turtle species worldwide are protected internationally, and in Sarawak, they are categorised as Totally Protected Animals under the Wildlife Ordinance.

Under the Totally Protected law, no one is allowed to keep animals in this category as pets, hunt them, disturb them, sell or keep any of their parts or as trophies.

The penalties for hunting and possessing any of these animals, dead or alive, and possessing any of their parts range from a fine of RM25,000 to RM50,000 and imprisonment from two to five years.


ILLEGAL DELICACY: These photos are an extract from yesterday’s combo picture appearing on our front page. They show turtle eggs served at a dinner during an official function in Kuching
on Saturday.

Meanwhile, according to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation’s (SFC) website, Malaysia is signatory to the memorandum of understanding on Asean Sea Turtle Conservation and Protection that promotes the protection, conservation, replenishing and recovery of sea turtles and of the habitats based on the best available scientific evidence, taking into account the environmental, socio-economic and cultural characteristics of the parties.

To better conserve and protect the reptile, the website said SFC launched the Sea Turtle Adoption Programme at Pulau Talang Talang Besar on April 30 last year to create awareness on the importance of sea turtle conservation and impart knowledge on sea turtle conservation.

The website also quoted SFC controller of wildlife and managing director and CEO Datu Len Talif Salleh as saying that legislations pertaining to sea turtles in Sarawak are in place and have been regularly updated to suit the needs.

Talif also said that these legislations also sought to straighten out overlapping areas and fill in gaps in the management of sea turtle research and conservation.

According to Talif, legislations such as Turtle Trust Ordinance, 1957 (amendment 1967), Turtles (prevention of Disturbance) Rules, 1962, Customs (Prohibition of Exports/Imports) Orders, 1988, Wild Life Protection Rules, 1988 (amendment 2003), National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance, 1998, National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance, 1998, National Parks and Nature Reserves Rules, 1999 and Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 (Amended 2003) provide further protection in legal terms for the sea turtles.

SFC is one of the representatives for the Asean-South East Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC) Project on Conservation and Management of Sea Turtles in Southeast Asian Region.

Currently SFC is implementing the Asean-SEAFDEC tagging program-me and undertaking DNA study in Sarawak.

Active engagement with stakeholders such as universities, institutes, private sectors and NGOs are ongoing.

Today, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore is one of its partners in sea turtle conservation programme.

“All these should be sufficient mirror as to why eating turtle eggs is not only an irresponsible act but an act of disrespect for the law,” D’Cruz said.


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