27th October 2017;
Fishing nets are a threat to the marine ecosystem, which is proven yet again when a group of local fishermen recently saved four Sea Turtles and ending their week of misery of being caught in the fishing nets.
As reported by Kosmo!, the group stumbled upon the distressing scene at roughly 9am on Wednesday (Oct 25) with one of the four endangered marine reptiles in a fragile state as one of its hind legs was almost cut off while its abdomen was bloated.
The captain of the crew, Wan Abdul Halim Wan Mohamed Dom, recounted that they found the trawling net, which entrapped the found Sea Turtles, at 22 nautical miles from the Kuala Kerteh Fisheries Jetty and are convinced that it may have belonged to foreign fishermen.
The 43-year-old went on to elaborate that he along with his three-man crew were on their way to their fishing spot to collect the fish that have been caught, when they came across the foreign trawling net.
“We found a trawling net that was 200 metres long and 10 metres wide. After we pulled it out and cut it open, we found two Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and two Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata),” the captain revealed to Kosmo! yesterday.
While Wan Abdul Halim shared that three of the Sea Turtles have been released to the sea, the severely injured turtle was taken back to the Kuala Kerteh Fisheries Jetty for treatment purposes.
He conveyed to the Malay daily that the Persatuan Khazanah Rakyat Ma’ Daerah (MEKAR) Kerteh has been informed of the discovery of the injured Hawksbill Turtle, prior handing it over to the Turtles and Marine Ecosystem Centre (TUMEC) in Rantau Abang yesterday.
Meanwhile, Fisheries Research Institute Officer Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad communicated that initial inspection revealed that the Hawksbill Turtle was severely injured and therefore, preventing it to swim normally.
“Based on its physical condition, it’s believed that the Hawksbill Turtle was trapped in the drift nets for a long period of time.
"The aquatic reptile is estimated to be between four and six years old and will be treated until it is fully recovered prior releasing it back to the ocean,” he affirmed.
Mohd Tamimi also underlined that the drift nets are believed to have belonged to foreign fishermen, who invaded Malaysian waters as the Department of Fisheries has banned the total use of trawling nets.
Sinar Harian reported that the officer revealed that many Sea Turtles have swam towards the middle of the sea following Vietnamese fishermen illegally harvesting marine produce mostly in the vicinity of Pulau Tenggol.
“Their illegal actions are damaging the coral reefs, which happens to be the primary ecosystem for Sea Turtles,” he lamented.
“I’m proud of the immediate action taken by our local fishermen to rescue the endangered Sea Turtles, that are protected under the Fisheries Act 1985,” he applauded.
Wan Abdul Halim on the other hand expressed his hope that enforcement measures will continue to improve as a means to ensure that foreign fishermen will not continue to threat out marine ecosystem.