MELAKA: The state government iMelaka focusing on conserving and preserving turtle landing sitess cutting back on the perimeter of ongoing reclamation works close to Pulau Upeh for the sake of turtles, said

State Agriculture, Entrepreneur Development, Co-operative and Agro-Based committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee.

He said the move was decided as the state government is focusing on conserving and preserving the environment of the turtle landing sites at Pulau Upeh and other parts of the state.

“We have stopped contractors from encroaching the perimeter of the permitted reclamation zone and they will face punitive action if they continue to be defiant.

“For the record, the reclamation works close to Pulau Upeh have been in existence since the 1970s,” he said after launching the staff appreciation event at the Turtle Conservation Centre in Padang Kemunting on Monday.

Norhizam noted that besides Pulau Upeh, other turtle landing sites included Padang Kemunting, Balik Batu, Terendak Camp, Tanjung Bidara, Pasir Gembur, Teluk Belanga, Tanjung Serai and Tanjung Dahan.

He said state authorities were also closely monitoring sea reclamation works at other areas where turtles land, to ensure the environment and ecosystem in the area were not affected.

“Pulau Upeh is a major turtle landing site and its location near the Klebang coastal reclamation project could further effect the landing of the hawksbill turtle.

“As such, the conservation and preservation of the tiny island is crucial,” he said.

Norhizam said the state government realises the critically-endangered hawksbill turtles could be driven to extinction by rapid land reclamation along the Melaka coastline.

He said the number of turtle landings in Pulau Upeh has dropped 30% from 36 sites in 2017 to only 20 last year, with about 130 eggs laid at each of the nests.

Norhizam said the State Fisheries Department recorded a total of 544,930 eggs laid in 4,594 nests from 2009 to 2018.

From this figure, he said 317,583 hatchlings were released to the sea during the same period.”Hatchlings are sensitive creatures and special care has been taken by the centre to ensure their survival once released,” he added.