“The turtle is too slow. “We prefer the fish because it is more agile and dynamic,” said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh here yesterday.
“This colourful fish can help project the state’s vibrant tourism industry and scenic islands,” he said, adding that the decision was made by the state executive council at its recent mee-ting.
There are 28 species of clownfish but the most common and the one that looks most like the one in the movie Finding Nemo is the bright orange and white striped Percula clownfish. The movie also featured a turtle called Crush.
When asked whether the move meant that the government was no longer placing importance on turtles, he said:
“Nobody has been more forceful than the present state administration in protecting the turtles. We have gazetted 10 turtle sanctuaries and this reflects our deep commitment.”
Turtle scientist Prof Chan Eng Heng of Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi Malaysia (Kustem) urged the state to reconsider its decision.
She said the move was tantamount to the state turning its back on the creatures, adding that Terengganu, was the only state in the peninsula where turtles nest in good numbers.
“Although the leatherbacks, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill are on the verge of extinction, we still have green turtles,” she said.