By MARTIN CARVALHO
MALACCA: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry plans to provide the much-needed funds to set up a hatchery for the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle at Pulau Upeh.
Minister Datuk Noh Omar said the Fisheries Department would be asked to look into the matter as the state government lacked the funds to realise the project.
“We will assist the state in the matter. I have directed the Fisheries Department to look into it,” he told reporters after opening the Farmers, Breeders and Fishermen Convention in Ayer Keroh here on Tuesday night.
Noh was commenting on the state government’s decision to revive an abandoned resort and chalet project on the 2.5ha Pulau Upeh that is home to about 100 turtle nests, representing over 20% of turtle nests in the peninsula.
However, last week, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the project scheduled to start this month had been deferred until environmental and fisheries impact assessments are completed.
The state’s development plan also caused public outcry, including from WWF-Malaysia, which said the project would adversely affect the turtles.
Located off the reclaimed land in Limbongan, the island was abandoned in the mid-1990s and later sold to Tenaga Nasional Bhd for RM10.4mil as a training centre in 2003.
This year, the state bought it back for RM6.5mil.
State Rural and Agriculture Development committee chairman Datuk Mohd Hidhir Abu Hassan confirmed that the island had been gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary under the Wildlife and National Parks Department but added that the protection did not cover the island’s marine life. The Star.