Malaysia: Malacca tops in Hawksbill turtle landings

Jason Gerald John New Straits Times 20 May 13;

CONSERVATION SUCCESS: Padang Kemunting centre hatches 25,300 turtles for release to habitat

ALOR GAJAH: A total of 25,264 Hawksbill turtles have been successfully hatched at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre in Padang Kemunting here last year, as part of efforts to save the species from extinction.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Hassim Abdullah said the number made up 60.22 per cent of the 41,952 Hawksbill turtle eggs incubated at the centre.

Last year, some 353 turtle landings were recorded in the state.

"Malacca has the highest landings of the Hawksbill turtles in Peninsular Malaysia and one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Between 2006 and 2012, a total of 2,952 turtles have landed on the beaches of Malacca.

"This is a huge success for the conservation centre in Padang Kemunting, which began operations in 1990.

"It has now gained a reputation as one of the outstanding conservation centres, popular among local and foreign tourists and researchers," he said after releasing 120 Hawksbill hatchlings to the sea near the conservation centre.

The release was part of the Fisheries Department's 2013 Media Expedition Programme, jointly organised with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Skudai and SMK Ghafar Baba here

Also present were Fisheries Department director-general Datuk Ahmad Sabki Mahmood, Tanjung Bidara assemblyman Md Rawi Mahmod and state Fisheries Department director Rosmawati Ghazali.

Hassim said Malacca was now the most important location for turtle landings in the Southeast Asian region with Pulau Upeh, located off the coast of Klebang becoming a key location as between 350 and 550 turtles of various species, especially the Hawksbill, landed on its shores each year.

Ahmad Sabki said the Fisheries Department aimed to create safe landing areas on the beaches throughout the country, especially for the highly endangered Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles.

"These two species of turtles are now under threat of extinction and we have established a monitoring and regulatory system with third parties in conducting various management and conservation programmes.

"The threat to these turtles include marine pollution, coastal erosion, exploitation of turtle eggs for food and fishing activities."

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