Marine agency all set to help turtles lay eggs

The Marine and Coastal Resources Department is now preparing to kick off the Turtle Egg Laying Ground Conser-vation Scheme to save native sea turtles.

"The marine turtle population has been distinctly declining for the last 10 years due to fishing, stealing of eggs by locals to sell to tourists, encroachment into egg-laying grounds and coastal erosion," according to director-general Nisakorn Kositratna.

Leatherback, logger-headed, hawksbill, green and olive turtles used to be found in local waters, but only about 1,000 of them are left. The department has decided to cooperate with the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Navy, Fisheries Department and private-sector organisations to develop the scheme to preserve the remaining 10 egg-laying grounds in six provinces. For example, the Navy will amend the fisheries law by fixing the fishing zone at five kilometres instead of 3km from the coastline and defining the fishing season.

Tourism organisations will come up with plans to run tourism businesses without disturbing laying turtles.

The department signed the Indian Ocean Sea Turtle memorandum of understanding two years ago and built a hatchery at its research centre in Phuket last year to protect turtles from local people and animals.

The breeding grounds are Tha Le Nok-Praphat beaches in Ranong, Ra-Phra Thong and Kho Khao islands, and Mu Ko Surin, Mu Ko Similan, Khao Lam Pee-Had Thai Muang Marine National Parks in Phang Nga, Sirinat Marine National Park in Phuket, Koy Lek island in Satun, the Khram, E-Ra, Chan islands and other nearby islands in Sattahip Bay in Chon Buri, and Kra island in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Wannapa Phetdee
The Nation