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  BBC 14 Oct 06
Malaysia turtle egg plan 'crazy'
By Jonathan Kent BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

New Straits Times 14 Oct 06
Turtles have left Terengganu shores, despite help

The Star 12 Oct 06
OK soon to sell turtle eggs

DUNGUN: The state government is expected to review the Fisheries Act to allow the issuance of licences to turtle egg traders here.

State Agriculture and Regional Development committee chairman Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafee said that in an unprecedented move, the regulations would be amended to monitor the sales of turtle eggs.

We are in the midst of making a proposal, hopefully to be tabled by next year, so that licences can be issued to egg collectors and traders, making the activity legal, he said after releasing 500 turtles hatchlings to the open sea along the shoreline at Rantau Abang here yesterday.

Mohd Jidin said, currently, the sales of eggs from Terengganu beaches were prohibited and those caught doing so could face action. However, he noted that illegal sales were rife and difficult to control without a proper monitoring system.

Quoting a recent report from The Star on the sale of turtle eggs in Pasar Payang here, he said the state government was concerned over the indiscriminate sales. He said with the issuance of the licence, the relevant authorities including the State Fisheries Department, could thwart any unlawful sales.

He said the Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Center (Tumec) here was successful in incubating enormous number of eggs and realising the hatchlings back to the sea.

Mohd Jidin said hundreds of hatchlings were released daily at Rantau Abang here.

Earlier, some 500 hatchlings were released along the beach at Rantau Abang here in conjunction with the upcoming double festive season. The hatchlings headed straight to the open sea after they were released by Mohd Jidin, Tumec chief Kamarruddin Ibrahim and other local leaders.

New Straits Times 14 Oct 06
Turtles have left Terengganu shores, despite help

Saving Malaysia's turtles has gone from hatching eggs at sanctuaries to satellite tracking and DNA finger printing of hatchlings for bio-tagging.

With all these efforts and awareness programmes by the government and private sector since the late 1960s, and with more than a million baby turtles released since then, one wonders why there has not been an increase in landing statistics?

The beaches in Terengganu used to be the choice nesting ground for thousands of leatherback turtles, which are now sadly on the brink of extinction. Together with the Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley, these marine turtles would blanket the beach to dig their nests.

This scenario has passed and despite efforts to revive the turtle population, it may never recover completely.

"After all these years of conservation efforts, the turtles should now be mature enough to return to the nesting ground. But sadly, we are not seeing the rewards of our efforts.

"Where did we go wrong?" asked state Agriculture and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafie at the Rantau Abang turtle sanctuary yesterday. He was there to release 700 Green turtle hatchlings.

Asked if there should be a total ban on the consumption of turtle eggs, he felt that even with such drastic measures, no one could yet explain why few turtles have returned to nest at the sanctuaries.

"Banning the sale of eggs will not solve the problem as it could encourage poaching and the high price for the eggs could worsen the problem. "The next best thing to do is to licence the egg sellers to control the number of eggs that can be sold each season. We will look into this seriously."

Taking a phrase from a wildlife conservation programme, Jidin said: "When the buying stops, so will the collection (of the eggs)."

BBC 14 Oct 06
Malaysia turtle egg plan 'crazy'
By Jonathan Kent BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Environmentalists have branded a plan to protect turtles in Malaysia by licensing turtle egg collection in a key breeding areas as "crazy".

The authorities in Terengganu state say the plan to legalise the trade will help them control it better.

Conservationists say it will drive the creatures further towards extinction.

Tourists used to come in droves to Terengganu, on peninsular Malaysia's east coast, to watch thousands of turtles come ashore to nest each year. But illegal egg collection and modern fishing practices have driven many turtle species to the brink of extinction.

Dismal

Terengganu's head of agriculture and regional development, Mohamad Jidin Shafie, says conservation efforts seem to have failed. He says banning egg collecting merely raises prices and encourages poaching.

But many environmentalists are aghast. They say the local government's attempts to stop the turtle egg trade have been dismal - eggs are on sale openly throughout the state.

And they have described the plan to regulate the practice as "crazy" and "simply not thought through".

Conservationists say it would make it impossible to tell whether eggs have been collected legally or not. Instead, they want a properly monitored ban and more support for their efforts to buy back stolen eggs.

Earlier this year Terengganu dropped the turtle as the state's mascot in favour of the clown fish. The state's chief minister said it was an agile and dynamic symbol. Environmentalists suggested the fish's main attraction was that, unlike the turtle, it had not been all but wiped out in the area.

links
Mascot Turtle Loses to 'Nemo' in Malaysia Electric New Paper 1 May 06
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