DUNGUN: The Terengganu Fisheries Department has recorded 31 turtle deaths from January to March this year.
Its director Ruzaidi Mamat said the relatively high number was due to strong waves during the monsoon season which made it difficult for the turtles to rise to the surface of the water to get air.
"The second factor is trawling activities which do not meet stipulated conditions, namely installation of a turtle excluder device (TED). Installation of TED is very important to make it easier for turtles trapped in nets to get out.
"Fishing using stingray nets or fishing nets with a mesh size of 25cm (10in) and above is also the cause of the turtle deaths. The use of such nets is banned under the Fisheries Act 1985,” he told reporters after the launch of Terengganu Turtle Awareness Month at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre here Friday (April 1).
Apart from that, he said rubbish in dumped in rivers and the sea by the public also posed a threat to the turtles.
The turtles ate plastic waste thinking it was jellyfish and this could be fatal, he added.
Ruzaidi said a number of measures had been taken to address the issue of turtle deaths, including Ops Penyu which saw action taken against three boats with Monsoon Season Trawl Net licences that were not equipped with TEDs.
Based on records, the department also seized 37 stingray nets in the operation along the coast of Terengganu early last month.
Ruzaidi said the Federal Government had allocated RM170,000 for turtle management and repair of turtle hatcheries in the state this year.
He said Turtle Awareness Month was aimed at making the public aware of the need to care for the turtle, the state's tourism icon.
It is also to enlighten the public on the Turtle Enactment 1951 (Amendment 2021) which was passed by the state assembly in November.
Among other measures, it banned sale of turtle eggs of all species with effect from June 1.
Three rescued turtles were also released into the sea in conjunction with the launch of Turtle Awareness Month. – Bernama