The Terengganu Fisheries Department recorded 31 turtle deaths from January to March this year.
Its director Ruzaidi Mamat said the relatively high number of deaths was due to strong waves during the monsoon season which made it difficult for the turtles to rise to the surface of the water to get air.
“The second factor is trawling activities which do not meet the stipulated conditions, namely on the turtle excluder device (TED),” he said.
“The installation of TED is very important to make it easier for turtles trapped in the nets to get out.
“Fishing using stingray nets or fishing nets with a mesh size of 10 inches and above is also a contributing cause. The use of such nets has been banned under the Fisheries Act 1985,” he said when met by reporters after the launch of the Terengganu Turtle Awareness Month at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre in Dungun.
He added that the public dumping of rubbish in the river and sea also posed a threat to the turtles as they would eat the plastic waste.
He said various measures had been taken to address the issue, including the “Ops Penyu” operation where action was taken against three boats with monsoon season trawl net licences which were not equipped with TED.
The department also seized 37 stingray nets in the operation which was conducted along the coast of Terengganu early last month.
Ruzaidi said the federal government had allocated RM170,000 for turtle management and the repair of turtle hatcheries in the state this year.