WWF-Malaysia Continues Call For Holistic Federal Laws To Protect Turtles

WWF-Malaysia 21 Jul 11;

KERTEH, July 23 – WWF-Malaysia repeats its call for more comprehensive and holistic Federal laws for turtles through its turtle awareness campaign at Mesra Mall, Kemasek, today.

Themed ‘Protect Our Turtles’, it is aimed at raising awareness to members of the public on the need to protect the endangered species and their nesting beaches.

“This campaign echoes our previous initiatives in bringing attention to the plight of turtles. Our ‘Egg=Life’ campaign launched in 2009 received 100,000 pledges from Malaysians who vowed not to eat turtle eggs and to support the development of comprehensive federal laws to protect turtles. Following that, WWF-Malaysia handed over a Memorandum to the Prime Minister in April last year urging the Federal government to enact better legal protection for this natural heritage through Federal laws,” said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

Currently, jurisdiction over turtles belongs to the States and these laws vary from state to state. Under the Federal Constitution, jurisdiction for the Federal government to enact such comprehensive laws will require the Federal Constitution to be amended.

He added, “The public plays a significant role in ceasing the continued trade and consumption of turtle eggs. Their support and pride towards this cause will lend weight to efforts aimed at safeguarding these iconic species.”

The one day campaign, held with the support and cooperation of the Department of Fisheries Terengganu featured an array of exciting activities including a ‘Futsal Piala Penyu’ Competition, games, exhibitions, and a special performance by UiTM Dungun students dubbed ‘Turtle Story/Viva La Tortuga’.

Furthermore, the world’s first Freeze Turtle Egg Trade (FTET) was also held at the campaign whereby some 60 volunteers simultaneously froze for 4 minutes. While the volunteers were in such position, information panels on turtles were placed next to them for curious onlookers. The FTET served as an instant and effective eye-opener to the public in addressing the main threats faced by turtles today – mainly the practice of consuming turtle eggs, becoming accidentally caught in fishing gear, marine and nesting beach pollution as well as illegal trade of turtles and their parts.

To encourage the public to stay committed to the cause, Pledge Signing was carried out throughout the event for turtle eggs to be off their menus. Turtle egg consumption is still widespread and openly sold in the markets.

At present, there is no national ban on the consumption of turtle eggs, with only the sale of leatherback turtle eggs banned in Terengganu while the eggs of other turtle species can be consumed and traded.

The mainland beaches and the islands along this East Coast state are currently home to one of the largest green turtle population in Peninsular Malaysia, averaging 2000 to 2500 nests per year.