KUALA TERENGGANU, May 9 (Bernama) — Turtle egg collectors in Terengganu are hoping that the state government would review the new purchase price of RM1.50 per egg, which has been deemed far too low compared to RM3 per egg previously.
They also claimed that the new purchase price was unreasonable and not commensurate with the cost to find and collect the exotic eggs on the beaches leased as turtle landing sites.
A collector in Kerteh beach, Shaifuddin Muhammad, 47, said under the Turtle Enactment 1951, which was amended in November last year, collectors would be prohibited from selling the turtle eggs to buyers other than the Fisheries Department starting June 1.
“Prior to this, we can sell the eggs to anyone who wanted to buy them at a much higher price, which is around RM4 or RM5 per egg…but now turtle landing is not as rampant as before, I can only find two nests so far this year compared to 46 nests in the corresponding period last year,” he told Bernama when contacted here today.
Shaifuddin, who has been a turtle egg collector over the past eight years, said that during the egg-laying season between April and September, a mother turtle could lay between 80 and 100 eggs in a nest.
“Most beaches which recorded high turtle landings (500 to 800 nests) are now under the purview of the Fisheries Department, while beaches leased by individuals such as myself only recorded an average of 60 to 80 nests per season,” said the collector who hired three workers for RM1,000 each per month to collect the eggs.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Awang, 60, a turtle egg collector in Dungun beach said the new purchase price was really a huge turnoff for them to help in the turtle conservation efforts in Terengganu.
“We agree to sell only to the Fisheries Department but at least let the price matches the effort and the various costs we have to incur…we also want to help restore the glorious era of Terengganu as the land of the turtles,” he said.
Another collector, Roslan Muhammad, 54, expressed hope that the government would allow non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or corporate bodies interested in the turtle conservation programme to purchase the eggs from the collectors at a price higher than that set by the Fisheries Department.
“There are many NGOs and corporate bodies who want to purchase the turtle eggs from the collectors as they too share the same objective, which is to protect and conserve endangered species as a social responsibility,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Agriculture, Food Industries, Plantation, Commodities and Rural Development Committee chairman Dr Azman Ibrahim said the state government would try to find the best win-win solution to the issue.
“The new price will take into consideration the financial implication to the state government while ensuring fair arrangements for the turtle egg collectors,” he said.