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Report: China demand sees rampant turtle killing in Sabah

 | May 4, 2017

Maritime agency patrolling waters off Semporna nab 5 Filipinos in trawler with 25 turtle shells and meat weighing about 100kg.

turtle-sabahPETALING JAYA: The demand from China for exotic food is seeing the rampant killing of turtles taking place in Semporna, Sabah, The Daily Express reported.

This was revealed by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) which detained five Filipinos and seized 25 turtle shells and meat weighing approximately 100kg earlier this week.

“While turtle catchers can get about RM40-RM50 per kg, the middle men who then sell the meat to buyers, mostly from China, could make a substantial profit, selling it for RM70-RM100 per kg,” MMEA maritime director for Semporna Base, Lieutenant Commander Maritime Kama Azri Kamil was quoted as saying.

He added that the arrest of the five Filipinos was made after MMEA received information that widespread turtle killings was taking place in the Batura waters.

“Our patrol boat managed to detain and check a fishing trawler with five undocumented crew on board. The team discovered 25 turtle shells and meat on the boat upon further inspection,” Kama said.

According to the Sabah-based daily, the seizures were estimated to be worth about RM13,000.

The five men were detained under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, punishable under Section 41(4) of the same Enactment, which provides for a jail term of up to three years, or a fine of up to RM100,000, or both.

“They have also being detained under the Immigration Act for further action. We are continuously monitoring activities in waters off Semporna to prevent any illegal activity there,” Kama told The Daily Express.

Turtles are protected under the Fisheries Act 1985 and the Fisheries Regulations 1999 (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) for Peninsular Malaysia and Federal Territories of Labuan, Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 and the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 for Sarawak and Sabah.

In 2015, the fisheries department, under the agriculture and agro-based industries ministry, even introduced the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to shrimp trawl fishermen in the east coast of Sabah, and the move has not only saved turtles but juvenile dugongs entangled in shrimp trawl nets.


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