Five species of marine turtles are known to nest in Myanmar at well known islands and mainland beaches known locally as “turtle-banks”. These are the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) marine turtles. However, the latter two species are considered extremely rare.
Maxwell (1911) conducted an extensive investigation of the “turtle-banks” of coastal Myanmar, as part of a review for the Burma Fisheries Act of 1902. At that time turtles nested on Thamihla Kyun (Diamond Island 15° 51′ N 94° 17′ E), an island at the mouth of the Pathein River, and Kaingthaung Kyun (15° 44′ N 95° 04’ E) and Thaungkadun (15° 43′ N 95° 18′ E) at the mouths of the Ayeyarwady (formerly spelled Irrawaddy) and Bogale Rivers, respectively. These beaches were leased by the Colonial Administration to local businessmen, who harvested and sold eggs. About 1.5 million olive ridley turtle eggs and 1.6 million green turtle eggs were harvested annually. Based on this egg harvest and several assumptions regarding female fecundity, Maxwell estimated a nesting population of 5,000 green turtles and 3,750 olive ridley turtles.
Sea turtles conservation started in Myanmar under Burma Fisheries Act (III –1905). Protection for the turtle hatching areas and turtle included and also trespassed on those areas without official consent was prohibited. In 1924, the Government of Burma, Agriculture (Forest Department) Notification No.1 made an official announcement, not to trespass within 3 miles radius from the turtle hatching.
In 1989, Government promulgated four fishing laws. The Law mentioned that no person should engage in harassing, catching, killing, storing, transporting, processing, and transferring of fishes, which the Department has prohibited.
In Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law (1990), mentioned in Chapter 1, Section (2), Subsection ( r ) there are ” Marine Products mean fishes obtained from the sea, aquatic organisms , excrete, scales , bones ,skins, Plants , non-living. The expression also includes Marine Turtle and eggs, Crocodiles and eggs, Crab, Ambergris, Oyster, Shell, Clam shell, Mussel, Coral, Sea sponges, Seaweed, Moss, Algae ” etc;
In chapter II, Section (40), there are ”No person shall search for and collect any Marine Products without a License ”.
On the West beach of Than Kyun Nge Island is a nesting ground for Green Turtles. We have recently found out in 2015 January. We started Turtle patrolling in the island due some numbers of poachers. We had to moved a nest to safe location on the east beach and started our turtle conservation program from then onwards.
The Turtles are hatched on 16th March 2016 and released after three days of monitoring and making sure of surrounding area are clear of predators.
Same as our other Marine Conservation programs we are now under construction of a proper Turtle Sanctuary for Monitoring, Tagging, and Looking after the turtles that are injured or do not have ability to survive on their own.
We have already approached several Marine Turtle Organization Internationally. We are also getting a proper permission from the Government for tagging, sampling and conducting a proper research.
Following are brief description for our plans.
Assessment of habitat – The nesting habitat will be assessed periodically to evaluate threats such as sand mining, beach armoring and lighting.
Sources of mortality – These will essentially determine the main/priority actions to be taken towards conservation. For example, if the main threat is from fishery related mortality, conservation action will need to be directed towards reducing this by implementing no-fishing zones or the use of Turtle Excluder Devices for trawlers.
Research and Data management – Basic research often provides useful insights into the biology of a species, which can have important implications for conservation. Data should be collected systematically on nesting season, abundance (number of nests / beach / season), adult mortality (source and magnitude), clutch sizes and on hatching success in-situ and in the hatchery.
Tagging – Flippers tags are the most common tags that are used to mark sea turtles. They are either made from metal or plastic, and they are attached by piercing through the skin of the turtle on the flipper. The tags usually have a unique number on one side, and a return address on the other (in case someone finds the turtle far away from where the turtle was tagged). The benefits to using flipper tags include the fact that they are easy to see, they are relatively easy to attach, and they are cheaper than other types of tags. The drawbacks to using flipper tags include the fact that they are not permanent and some kinds may make the turtle more susceptible to being accidentally caught in fishing nets. Flipper tags can also be disturbing to some turtles when they are applied; most workers wait until after a nesting female has finished laying before applying the flipper tags. Remember that whenever you are applying tags to a turtle, you should minimize the chance of spreading disease or infection. Always clean tags and tagging equipment before applying tags to a turtle and remember to disinfect the skin around the tagging site with a disinfectant suitable for skin prior to attaching the flipper tag. Finally, most projects place at least two flipper tags on individual turtles (one on each front or rear flipper), to reduce the impact of tag loss on the chances of getting tag recapture information.
Public Awareness and Education – Public support is required for successful conservation, and hence education and awareness must form a central part of conservation programs.
Involving Local Communities – It has become increasingly clear that successful conservation programs need to involve local communities ie. the people who are most directly in contact with the animals in question.