The Consumers Association Penang (CAP) refutes claims made by the Batu Maung State Assemblyman Dato’ Abdul Malik Abul Kassim that the reclamation project in Permatang Damar Laut was well-received by the fishermen in the area.
Commenting on Dato’ Abdul Malik’s statement that was reported in the media, CAP would like to clarify that the fishing community that we met had raised serious concerns about the proposed project. In addition to that, media reports state that fishermen from 14 fishing units held a protest on Sunday to voice their discontent over the proposed reclamation project.
CAP would like to stress that past reclamation projects in the State had brought about many negative impacts. For example, fishing communities in Tanjung Tokong and Sungai Gelugor faced significant decrease in catch due to reclamation projects. Fishermen in these areas are not only forced to go further to get sufficient catch, but require more time and expenditure in order to do so.
Based on CAP’s observation, the reclamation projects not only lead to shrinking of fishing zone and the destruction of fishing grounds but also pollution of the sea as well as sedimentation. Besides decline of their main source of catch which are fish and prawns, breeding areas of cockles and mussels are also badly affected, leading to their extinction.
Over the past 10 years many grievances and complaints by fishermen in the State regarding the decline in catch were due to various threats in their fishing area. The problems stem from land reclamation activities, the destruction of mangrove forests, pollution from factories and aquaculture ponds, as well as sediments from development projects.
CAP has received complaints from fishermen in Permatang Damar Laut regarding pollution from mud deposits and sedimentation here. But unfortunately no serious action has been taken by the State government to rectify the pollution problem. As a result, when they cast their nets to catch fish, mud is instead trapped in their nets.
Thus CAP urges the Penang government to consider the adverse impacts to the environment and the livelihoods of local communities before proceeding with any project in the future.
“In aiming at progress… you must let no one suffer by too drastic a measure, nor pay too high a price in upheaval and devastation, for your innovation”- Maunier, 1949: 725
Press Statement, 17 December 2015