MALACCA: In a move to save the endangered Hawksbill turtle and to combat poachers, Malacca fisheries authorities are now paying collectors RM1.30 per egg so that they would not sell the eggs on the black market.
The fisheries department here was previously paying the state’s 16 licensed egg collectors RM1 per egg.
State fisheries director Zawawi Ali said that currently only about 50% of the collected turtle eggs are sold back to the Turtle Management Centre in Kampung Padang Kemunting. Of these, only about half are hatched, he added.
A Hawksbill turtle lays between 130 and 150 eggs each time.
Last year, 303 Hawksbill turtles landed at several beaches and 35,257 eggs were collected. Some 14,626 eggs were hatched.
Egg collection is made at designated beaches at Padang Kemunting, Tanjung Bidara, Terendak Camp and Pulau Upeh.
Efforts are being made to come out with a fast repayment system to stop the eggs from being sold on the black market, Zawawi said before the launching of a turtle management pamphlet and the presentation of licences to collectors by state executive councillor Yunus Husin here on Friday.
Zawawi said there was also a need to increase public awareness on turtle conservation.
Head of the Putrajaya-based resource rehabilitation centre of the fisheries department Dr Sukarno Wagiman said it was carrying out a study to replace the traditional fishing hook – the “J” hook – with a circled hook that would allow turtles caught by anglers to escape.
In his speech, Yunus, who is state Rural Development and Agriculture Committee chairman, said four of seven types of turtles in the world land at Malaysian beaches to lay eggs.
The Hawksbill and green turtles, he added, land at beaches in Malacca.
“Only one out of 1,000 baby turtles released to the sea would return to the beach as mature turtles to lay eggs,” he said, urging the people to keep the beaches clean.
He said the turtle management pamphlets would provide information for visitors to learn about the centre and to take part in conservation programmes.
The pamphlets are jointly developed by the state fisheries department and WWF-Malaysia and sponsored by Public Bank.
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