2,000 fishers in Kerian threatened by shrimp farming project

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry to investigate and take prompt action to resolve the problem of 2,000 coastal fishers in the Kerian district, Perak whose livelihood has been affected due to the implementation of aquaculture projects in the area.

The shrimp farming activities that began 20 years ago have not only destroyed hundreds of hectares of mangroves in the district but also caused marine pollution and threatened fisheries resources in the coastal area in this district.

CAP regrets that although the problem has been brought to the attention of the state government, relevant departments and agencies, until now remedial action has yet to be taken. In fact the problem has become more serious.

CAP’s survey in Kuala Kurau, Sungai Betul, Sungai Labu and Kuala Bagan Tiang found that the income of the coastal fishers have been seriously affected due to the shrimp farming operations here. Fish, prawns, cockles, crabs and shell-fish which were the main catch for coastal fishers here have dwindled and some are near extinction.

Before the aquaculture project commenced, the fishers here could get an income of RM100 daily but now they can get only RM15 daily.

Besides the loss of vast areas of mangrove forest, pollution from shrimp pond effluents has threatened various species of aquatic life here. In addition to threats to fish catch, the income of shrimp-paste producers and cockle breeders have also been affected because prawns and cockles cannot survive in the polluted waters.

The felling of mangrove trees by the shrimp farmers is rampant and they do not care about the adverse impacts to the environment and livelihood of coastal fishers. CAP also found that river reserves under the jurisdiction of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage have been affected by shrimp farming here.

CAP urges the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry to take immediate action to stop all shrimp farming activities in the district to save the environment and livelihood of fishers. The Land and Mines Office must investigate and take stringent action if it is found that shrimp farmers here have breached the law.

Press Statement, 2 March 2015