Malaysia turtle egg plan 'crazy'
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
By Jonathan Kent
Environmentalists have branded a plan to protect turtles in Malaysia by licensing turtle egg collection in a key breeding areas as "crazy".
The authorities in Terengganu state say the plan to legalise the trade will help them control it better.
Conservationists say it will drive the creatures further towards extinction.
Tourists used to come in droves to Terengganu, on peninsular Malaysia's east coast, to watch thousands of turtles come ashore to nest each year.
But illegal egg collection and modern fishing practices have driven many turtle species to the brink of extinction.
Terengganu's head of agriculture and regional development, Mohamad Jidin Shafie, says conservation efforts seem to have failed.
He says banning egg collecting merely raises prices and encourages poaching.
But many environmentalists are aghast.
They say the local government's attempts to stop the turtle egg trade have been dismal - eggs are on sale openly throughout the state.
And they have described the plan to regulate the practice as "crazy" and "simply not thought through".
Conservationists say it would make it impossible to tell whether eggs have been collected legally or not.
Instead, they want a properly monitored ban and more support for their efforts to buy back stolen eggs.
Earlier this year Terengganu dropped the turtle as the state's mascot in favour of the clown fish.
The state's chief minister said it was an agile and dynamic symbol.
Environmentalists suggested the fish's main attraction was that, unlike the turtle, it had not been all but wiped out in the area.