Initiatives implemented for marine conservation

Rokiah Mahmud

Several initiatives and efforts have been undertaken by the Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) for the conservation and management of marine life in the country, especially turtles.

This was the response by Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong, to a question by Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit regarding the Department of Fisheries’ turtle conservation efforts, as well as statistics on the turtle population. Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli also queried about the measures being taken to address the declining turtle population, which is partly caused by plastic waste and toxic chemicals.

At the same time, he suggested for more integrated efforts in handling the issue, especially from members of the public.

The minister replied, “The Department of Fisheries’ measures basically consist of beach patrols during the turtle nesting season, raising public awareness, tagging turtles, and the incubation and relocation of hatchlings, in addition to hosting volunteer programmes.

“It is hoped that more volunteers will get involved in these activities, to prevent turtles from becoming extinct. Several international, private and government schools have also been actively involved in turtle release programmes.”

He added, “Turtles are protected under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which prohibits the exploitation of wild animal specimens for the purpose of trading, and aims to ensure that no wild populations are threatened with extinction.

“At the moment, our ministry has yet to make a more detailed observation of the turtle population. However, the involvement of volunteers would eventually assist the Department of Fisheries in determining the numbers.”