Sale of turtle eggs defeats conservation efforts

WWF-Malaysia continues its call for the ban on the sale of turtle eggs which would be a major step for the conservation of this endangered species.

The national conservation trust responds to the statements made by Toh Chin Yaw, Terengganu Environment Committee chairman as reported by The Star in ‘T'ganu has no plan to ban sale of turtle eggs', (July 2, 2012).

The article quoted Toh as saying that the state does not encourage the sale or consumption of the eggs, but has no plans to ban these practices.

WWF-Malaysia firmly believes that for turtle conservation efforts to be effective and to achieve the desired conservation outcome, they must be carried out simultaneously on several fronts.

These include the protection of nesting beaches, creating public awareness, strict enforcement of relevant laws and regulations, as well as the ban on the sale of turtle eggs.

Removal of turtle eggs from nesting beaches for consumption is known to be a major contributor to the declining turtle population.

WWF-Malaysia applauds the Terengganu State Government in gazetting Rantau Abang beach as a turtle sanctuary.

However, the gazettement of a nesting beach whilst at the same time allowing the sale of turtle eggs is inconsistent, and runs contrary to the objectives of safeguarding the state's icon.

Toh's remark that it is not fair to force the people to stop eating turtle eggs altogether as it has been a culture of the locals is untenable especially when all the marine turtle species found in the country are either endangered or critically endangered.

If no action is taken to ban the sale of turtle eggs, the declining turtle population will not recover, and their population decline may eventually be irreversible.

Based on the outreach activities carried out by WWF-Malaysia and other turtle conservation NGOs in the state, more and more individuals, especially the younger generation are saying no to turtle egg consumption.

Support from the public is not short on this as WWF-Malaysia garnered more than 100,000 signatures for the "Egg=Life" campaign in 2010. In line with it's reputation as a "Turtle State", the Terengganu government can only be highly commended if it chooses to take the lead in banning the sale of turtle eggs.

Banning the sale of turtle eggs in Terengganu will be in line with the national plan of action for conservation and management of sea turtles, which sets a national ban on the sale of turtle eggs as its top priority.