Malaysia: 'Sabah' turtle eggs flooding the peninsular markets

Daily Express 18 Dec 13;

Kota Kinabalu: Turtle eggs from Sabah continue to flood the Peninsular Malaysia market, particular Terengganu and Kelantan, which Sabah authorities said actually came from neighbouring Philippines.

Rantau Abang Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec) Chief, Syed Abdullah Syed Abdul Kadir said about 50 per cent of the turtle eggs sold in the market in Terengganu and Kelantan were from Sabah.

Presenting his paper on the population of turtles in Peninsular Malaysia at the Seminar on Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Goal 5: Threatened Species Status Improving at Ming Garden here Tuesday, he said Terengganu and Kelantan were the only two states in the country where selling of turtle eggs is legal.

According to him, one of the retailers of turtle eggs told him that the turtle eggs could not be detected by the scanners in the airport, hence it was relatively easy to send them from Sabah to Semenanjung Malaysia and later to the two east coast states.

However, Sabah Parks Director, Paul Basintal who chaired the session responded that Sabah is actually a transit point for the turtle eggs that originated from the islands in the Philippines.

Basintal said near the three islands in the Turtle Parks in Malaysia waters are six other Philippine islands, which are also nesting sites for turtles.

These six islands produced around one million eggs annually and the Philippines government only gazetted one of them as protected.

But, he said it was difficult for the government's decree to be imposed in view of the unique situation in Mindanao, the southern Philippines, which is an autonomous governed region.

In this respect, Basintal said the eggs were then smuggled into Sabah and some ended in the market in Sandakan while the others went to the peninsula market.

He agreed that more efforts were needed, such as on the detection of turtle egg consignments.

Meanwhile, Syed Abdullah said some of the turtle eggs were also from Indonesia because he had been told that fishermen from Malaysia and Indonesia even conducted barter trade in the middle of the sea - fish for turtle eggs.

On the other hand, he said a total of 190 million turtle hatchlings have been released into the sea in the country since 1995.

In Malaysia, four species can be found namely Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherback Turtle.

Egg harvesting hurting Coral Triangle turtle conservation
Ruben Sario The Star 19 Dec 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Turtle conservation efforts in the biodiversity rich Coral Triangle are being hampered by the harvesting of eggs for human consumption, especially in southern Philippines.

The Coral Triangle is the sea surrounded by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It has an abundance of marine life, including several species of turtles.

Other than egg harvesting, scores of turtles are also killed in waters off the state’s east coast partly due to collisions with tourist boats.

According to Sabah Parks director Paul Basintal, turtle eggs from the Philippines were smuggled to Peninsular Malaysia through Sabah.

He said there were three Philippine islands located near Sandakan’s Turtle Island Park, consisting of another three islands, that form a huge nesting ground for the turtles.

An estimated one million eggs are laid at these six islands yearly, but the Philippines had only designated one of its islands as a conservation area, which also lies in an area difficult to manage as it falls under an autonomous region.

Speaking at the Coral Triangle Initiative seminar here yesterday, Basintal said that there was a sharp drop in turtle eggs coming from southern Philippines during the Malaysian security forces’ offensive against the Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu and Semporna districts in February and March this year.

However, he said that intrepid smugglers could also be using courier services to send turtle eggs to the peninsula as these could not be easily detected by airport scanners.

Earlier at the seminar, Rantau Abang Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre chief Syed Abullah Syed Abdul Kadir said about half of turtle eggs sold in Terengganu and Kelantan were from Sabah as well as from Indonesia.

Malaysian fishermen could also have been trading their catch for the turtle eggs with their Indonesian counterpart at sea.

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks had recorded 225 turtle deaths over the past 12 years.