by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH
Some 200 volunteers from Malakoff Corp Bhd, Department of Fisheries Malaysia and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) took part in a turtle awareness programme at Lumut, Perak.
The programme called “Kenali Penyu, Sayangi Penyu”, organised by independent power producer (IPP) Malakoff, is now running into the sixth year.
“The programme is one of our annual projects to show our commitment towards environmental sustainability. We want to be responsible to our neighbour, the Segari Turtles Managament Centre (TMC). We have been paying an active role in protecting the rich ecological biodiversity particularly to the area where we operate,” said Lumut Power Plant (LPP) manager Ir Mohd Azmi Jusoh.
LPP, the largest combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station, operated by Malakoff, is located next to the conservation and hatchery centre.
Mohd Azmi said the programme was guided by experts and researchers from the Fisheries Department to produce better hatching methods and results.
“We are grateful for the good cooperation received from the Fisheries Department as we are able to increase the level of awareness of the local fishermen, as well as the community on the plight of the turtles and encourage them to be actively involved in conservation efforts of the endangered species,” he said.
Established in 1989, the Segari TMC has been the hatching centre for turtles in Lumut area. In 2016, it received 130 turtle landings.
“We started nearly 30 years ago and since then around 2,000 over turtles have landed at our centre. Turtles will usually come back to the same location where they had laid their eggs. Most of the turtles here have visited us before,” said Fisheries Department officer Kasim Tawe.
However, he said that the centre has been experiencing a low hatching rate of about 30%, well below the recommended rate by researchers of 50%-60%.
“Last year, we received 12,873 eggs, both from the laying and from local fishermen who found the eggs around the coastal shoreline, but only 2,963 were hatched,” he said.
Recognising the problem, Malakoff had contributed RM13,000 to the Fisheries Department for the maintenance of the centre.
The Fisheries Department has a total of seven turtle conservation and awareness centre in Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka, Johor, Perak and Penang.
The department has been organising management and conservation programmes since 1990s with the main activities being to protect the natural nesting area of the turtles and release the turtles back to the sea.
The highlight of the latest voluntary event was the release of turtles into the sea. The participants were also given the opportunity to be up close to the turtles that are kept at the hatchery and conservation centre.
Started in 2011, Malakoff has been organising the programme as part of its effort to raise awareness on the conservation of the endangered species among local communities and students.
In addition to the programme, Malakoff has also been organising other environmental preservation-driven efforts around its operating areas including the Giant Clam Restoration Project and Coral Rehabilitation Project at Pulau Mentinggi and Pulau Aur in Johor to sustain the restoration of the marine ecosystem around the islands.
Malakoff’s core focus is on power generation, water desalination, and operation and maintenance services. In Malaysia, it is the largest IPP with a net generating capacity of 6,346MW from its seven power plants.