Left to rot: Dried turtle carcass with carapace intact found at Pulau Tiga, Sabah.
KOTA KINABALU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (EssCom) has expressed concern over a recent claim of mass killing of sea turtles at Pulau Tiga, off Kudat in northern Sabah.
Its corporate communications head Newmond Tibin said EssCom and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) jointly carried out two interdictions (a security initiative) against potential turtle poachers off Banggi island on Sept 2 and Dec 7 last year.
“This was made possible through public tip-offs and intelligence. Unfortunately, no incriminating evidence was found,” he said.
He said another operation carried out off Mantanani island on March 1 this year also proved fruitless.
“These poachers shift their area of activities frequently and EssCom and the MMEA will continue to pursue the culprits. We very much welcome public information in this regard,” he said.
A report last week quoted Univer-siti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) research-lecturer Dr James Alin as having stumbled upon a “killing field” of some 60 protected sea turtles on Pulau Tiga, in the Balambangan Banggi Channel, north of Kudat.
Sabah DAP secretary Dr Edwin Bosi quickly responded by asking the Government and Esscom to explain how the alleged mass killing of the protected sea turtles could have gone unnoticed on the island.
Newmond said EssCom had initiated measures before and after the alleged incident to address the issue of destructive fishing and poaching of protected marine life in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone).
“EssCom is equally concerned over the matter. It is careless to suggest that EssCom is indifferent to these illegal acts, more so to suggest that we are unaware,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
“Nevertheless, EssCom appreciates the concern shown by DAP and others.
“Without public tip-offs, the war on destructive fishing and poaching of protected marine lives would continue to be daunting to law enforcement agencies and EssCom.”
The EssZone comprises 10 districts, including Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran and Sandakan.
The others are Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak set up EssCom following the invasion of Kampung Tanduo by a Sulu terrorist group in February last year. — Bernama