Turtles caught in the fishing net in Cu Lao Cham

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According to local fishermen's observation, sea turtles have appeared in Cu Lao Cham sea in the early days of 2020. The scuba diving tourists have also confirmed of their presence at the coral reefs, looking for food. Aside from these positive and joyful signals, there is a concern for their safety. The network of fishermen's fishing nets is dense, high-speed boats operating with high intensity, lights and noises at beaches as well as other human activities are dangers to the sea turtles when they return to live, look for food and beaches to lay their eggs.

According to statistics of Management Board of Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area (MPA), in the two years of 2018 and 2019, there was a total of 23 turtles caught in the nets, of which only 9 (accounting for 39%) were rescued to life thanks to early detection.

 

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Table 1: Rate of the rescued turtle (Source: Cu Lao Cham MPA, 2020)

There is a very important issue that can raise questions for the conservation studies of this rare species that turtles are often caught in the nets in the shores where are the fishermen’s traditional fishing grounds. While being caught in the nets, the turtles struggle to escape but the more they struggle, the more the nets tighten to their necks, leading to suffocation to death. This still happens in Cu Lao Cham but there is no effective solution to solve the problem. Turtle conservation experts are trying to find solutions to both maintain the people’s livelihood and preserve this rare species of sea turtles.

There was one case of a turtle caught in the nets and died reported by fishermen named Nguyen Thanh in Bai Huong at 06:30 am on February 18, 2020. In the process of collecting nets in the area in front of the wharf in Bai Huong village, he discovered a dead turtle in the nets. He immediately informed the MPA by a phone call. The Board came to receive and treat the dead turtle as a specimen, then displayed it at the Visitor Center of Marine Protected Area.

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Fig 1 and 2: The dead green turtle has been used as a specimen

It was a Cheloniidae Familia, also known as Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). This one weighs about 9 kilograms, the length of the shell is 54 cm and the width of shell is 50 cm.

According to statistics from 2018 until February 18, 2020, the percentage of turtles rescued to life in Cu Lao Cham sea after being caught in the nets is very low (39%). Most of the cases rescued to life are thanks to early detection by the fishermen when the turtles have just been caught in the nets. This problem is not only the fishermen's concerns but also a great challenge for scientists and conservationists who have been trying to find ways to protect them from increasingly clear dangers.

In the near future, communication to raise awareness and responsibility for fishermen living in the MPA is a top priority. In addition, it is very important to equip the fishermen, tourists, tour guides and other stakeholders with knowledge, skills to rescue wild animals, especially sea turtles. This should be carried out regularly in order to contribute to the conservation of this rare ancient reptile against their extinction on a global scale.

The Management Board of Cham Islands Marine Protected Area would like to say thank you for the locals and stakeholders cooperation on turtle conservation.

For more contact, please call the hotline: 0253.930191 or 0986.802103.


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