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  The Star 5 Oct 06
Fishermen’s nets take deadly toll on turtles

KUALA TERENGGANU: Nets set by fishermen along the coast have killed 20 turtles, including the leatherback, thus far this year.

State Fisheries Department director Munir Mohd Nawi said most of the turtles of various species were trapped in the nets.

”The turtles were unable to free themselves and suffocated to death,” he said. Munir said the department would step up enforcement to catch the culprits.

“We are not only concentrating on sea surveillance but also keeping a watch on the coastline,” he added.

The nets are found from Kerteh to Kemasik, at Telaga Papan, Setiu and Kampung Pangkalan Maras in Batu Rakit here.

The department and the Turtle and Maritime Centre (Tumec) had confiscated 108 drift and gill nets so far this year compared with 10 over the whole of last year. Munir said 34 nets were destroyed after the owners failed to claim them.

Munir said the department would go all out to buy leatherback eggs from collectors to save the species from extinction. The collection and eating of leatherback eggs were banned in 1991.

Munir said five leatherback turtles arrived in the first eight months of this year and laid 376 eggs. Green turtles made up the largest influx, with 1,662 laying 154,947 eggs in the same period.

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