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Asia Dive News : Taiwan sets up turtle reserve on disputed island

A green turtle reserve has been established on a disputed South China Sea island where fishing boats from surrounding nations hunt the endangered species, a local official said on Monday 12th.

The Marine Bureau of Kaohsiung, a south Taiwan port city, has declared the ocean around Taiping Island a protected area for at least two subspecies of green turtle that frequent the area and are listed internationally as endangered.

Brunei, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim the 51 Spratly islands and reefs, of which Taiping is the largest at 489,500 square metres and least prone to sand or mud erosion that hurts turtles, said Cheng Yi-chun, a marine biology professor at Taiwan National Ocean University.

Taiping is about 1,000 km (621.4 miles) southwest of Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung city workers are among the only inhabitants on Taiping, which is also controlled by Taiwan's military. But fishing boats from surrounding countries still hunt the several thousand remaining turtles in the Spratly group.

Kaohsiung chose Taiping Island as a turtle reserve after about four months of deliberation, said Chen Kuo-yung, a section chief with the Marine Bureau. He said ship traffic in the waters near Taiping was limited and inconvenient.

'Other countries have no reason to oppose us making that a preservation area,' Chen said.

Source: SOSD