TRACC is a non-profit organization in Sabah Malaysia dedicated to the conservation of marine habitats, ecosystems and species. We work on marine turtle conservation to stop or reduce turtle mortality – from egg and meat poaching, through to rescue of injured turtles . Marine turtles are protected by CITIES and many other local laws but are still seriously endangered. Our main base on Pom Pom Island is an important nesting site for Green and Hawksbill turtles, with snorkel surveys counting upto 40 turtles per hour during the high season. During the summer, the island is host to over 120 turtles and some are resident on the seagrass in front of the TRACC facility.
Unfortunately not all the islands in the Semporna district are so well protected. Many of the fisher families in Semporna and throughout the SE Asia region still harvest meat and gather sea turtle eggs from beaches to be sold as delicacies in fine dining restaurants. While it is completely illegal in Sabah, reversing tradition and affecting coastal village livelihoods are complex issues especially when many of the poachers are undocumented residents with no legal right to live anywhere.
Egg poaching is still common and many otherwise upstanding citizens still buy turtle eggs in markets when ever possible. TRACC volunteers patrol the beaches where we work to reduce egg collection and we work with WWF, Kudat Turtle Conservation Society and the Sabah Wildlife Dept to raise awareness and reduce poaching. Fortunately adult turtle harvesting in Sabah is no longer visibly widespread, there are occasional incidents which create a public outcry and occasional vessels from neighbouring countries which are arrested with horrible cargoes of endangered marine turtles.