KUDAT: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia has urged the Tun Mustapha Park in northern Sabah gazettement to be expedited to prevent rampant poaching of protected marine species here. Its executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma was responding to a recent report on a researcher's finding of more than 60 sea turtles carcasses found at the Pulau Tiga near here.
Those species were believed to be kept by middlemen at the island before smuggled to mainland China and Vietnam via shipping vessels in Philippines.
"The discovery reveals gaps in the enforcement of our laws on turtle protection; both the Sabah State Wildlife Enactment and the Federal Fisheries Act have provisions for turtle protection.
"We believe with the establishment of the marine park, it would provide a platform for collaboration among agencies and concerted effort for conservation and management of the area," he said, adding that the bureaucracies around the gazettement work need to be stopped as it has delayed the intention since 2003.
Sharma also urged relevant authorities to take seriously on tips off by local community on the poaching activities at their places.
"WWF -Malaysia has received reports from them and lodged them to relevant enforcement but to no avail.
"Those islanders are providing credible information as they are also concerned on encroachment that could endanger for them and also affecting their source of incomes," he explained.
In Malaysia, Leatherbacks and Olive Ridleys turtles have declined by more than 99 per cent; the commonly found Green turtles has reduced by more than 20 per cent and Hawksbill turtles by approximately 70 per cent.
"Sea turtles fulfill important roles in marine ecosystems as they maintain the seagrass beds,".