Two alleged turtle hunters caught in Semporna

KOTA KINABALU: Two suspects allegedly hunting endangered sea turtles were caught by coastguards in the internationally renowned diving haven of Semporna in Sabah.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said they received intelligence reports about two suspects hunting and killing turtles in waters off Pulay Kerindingan at 1.30am Sunday.

MMEA Semporna base director Lt Commander Amiludin Yenggah said the two suspects – aged 35 and 15 – were caught in a pump boat and did not have valid personal identification documents on them.

He said the MMEA also recovered some four slices of turtle meat and equipment used to hunt the marine animals on their boat.

"We believe they are among those in the area responsible for hunting and killing turtles," he said.

The suspects are being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 and the Immigration Act.

He said the duo claimed to be Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) from Pulau Omandal in Semporna, adding that their identities were still being verified.

He said police were tackling the illegal hunting of turtles in Semporna waters and urged those with any information to contact the MMEA operations base at 089-782 619.

On Saturday night (Jan 13), seven turtle carcasses were found near Mabul Island.

Concerns over the killing of turtles in Semporna waters arose in October last year, after more than 100 turtle carcasses were found on Pulau Bum Bum.