KOTA KINABALU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (EssCom) has expressed concern over a recent report claiming mass killing of sea turtles on Pulau Tiga, off Kudat in the northern part of Sabah.
Its Corporate Communications head Newmond Tibin said EssCom had initiated measures prior to and after the alleged incident to address destructive fishing and poaching of protected marine life in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone).
"EssCom is equally concerned over the matter. So it is careless to suggest that EssCom is indifferent to these illegal acts, more so to suggest that we are unaware," he said in a statement here today.
Newmond was responding to the call by DAP Sabah secretary Dr Edwin Bosi for the government, particularly EssCom to explain how the mass killing of protected sea turtles could have gone unnoticed on Pulau Tiga at Balambangan Banggi Channel, north of Kudat.
"Nevertheless, EssCom appreciates the concern shown by the DAP and other members of the public.
"Without public tip-offs, the war on destructive fishing and poaching of protected marine lives would continue to be daunting to law enforcement agencies and EssCom," he said.
Last week, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) research-lecturer Dr James Alin was reported to have stumbled upon a "killing field" of some 60 protected sea turtles on Pulau Tiga.
Newmond countered that EssCom and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sabah Region and Labuan, had jointly carried out two interdictions against potential turtle poachers on Sept 2, last year off Banggi Island and on Dec 7 the same year around the same location.
"This was made possible through public tip-offs and intelligence. Unfortunately no incriminating evidence was found," he said.
He said another operation carried out on March 1, this year off Mantanani Island also proved fruitless.
However, Newmond said turtle poaching activities off Banggi Island and Mantanani Island had ceased following the three interdictions.
"It is very clear that these poachers shift their area of activities frequently and EssCom and the MMEA will continue to pursue the culprits. We very much welcome public information in this regard," he said.
The EssZone comprises 10 districts namely Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.
EssCom was established by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak following the invasion of Kampung Tanduo by a Sulu terrorist group in February last year.