“As the number of rare species of turtles laying eggs along the sea shore of Pone Nyat Village in Kyeintali, Gwa Township, Rakhine State, has declined on a yearly basis, certain measures are being taken to prevent them from becoming extinct,” said U Thant Zin Oo, secretary, KIFCA .
It has been reported that fishing in the region is contributing to the decline in the turtle population due to indiscriminate consumption and use of nets.
“The number of turtles laying eggs is decreasing excessively, year by year. Prior to this alarming situation, five species of turtles could be seen laying eggs here. The last time we saw female Leatherback turtles, one of the endangered species, laying eggs was eight years ago. It has been a number of years since the event. At the time, we recorded about 21 females of 4 different species — Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Loggerhead turtles — laying eggs on the shore,” said U Thant Zin Oo.
“If I remember correctly, we managed to free 1,800 baby turtles. Then for some reason, the preservation weakened over time. From January to 23 March this year, we spotted 5 female turtles laying eggs on the shore. In addition to that, we recorded some turtle species getting caught unexpectedly in fishing nets. They were eventually freed,” he said.
“This slow decline is being caused by consumption by fishermen and unsystematic use of fishing nets. In the long run, the turtles will become extinct. This is why we are working hard to preserve them,” he added.
The Department of Fisheries is working hard to save the endangered species from extinction by creating and protecting breeding sites in collaboration with the RCA, the TSA, and the WCS.
There are seven known species of turtles in the world. Some of the species such as the Leatherback turtle, Green turtle, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill Turtle, and Loggerhead Turtle are found in Rakhine, Myanmar. Experts say that most of them lay eggs along the beach in Pone Nyat Village in the town of Kyeintali.
At present, 24 miles of the beach (1,79,200 acres) has been designated as a sanctuary and divided into three zones to protect endangered turtle species. The preservation work is being conducted in collaboration with the Kyeintali costal association. A total of 97 baby sea turtles were released into the sea from Pone Nyat beach’s Zone 1 on 19 July. —Painzalok Thein Nyunt
(Translated by Alphonsus)