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3-island reclamation south of Penang

Predeep Nambiar -March 8, 2019 10:19 PM• 10 minutes

Nelayan Komuniti Tanjung Tokong chief Mohd Ishak Abdul Rahman, 72, (right, with cap) holding up a placard showing the Penang flag with the words “Penang, Darul Tambak’.

GEORGE TOWN: A group of fishermen and interest groups today took to the streets to protest against a proposed reclamation project to the south of the island, saying they should learn from the lessons of past reclamation projects in Penang.

They held placards along Jalan Tanjung Tokong urging the Penang government to defer reclamation projects and highway projects to safeguard the precious marine life and Penang’s sensitive hill environment.

Penang plans to reclaim three islands down south to finance a RM46 billion transport master plan which will see highways, rail lines and other modes of transport being introduced.

Although the three islands have yet to be created, three active reclamation work projects are taking place on the eastern coast of Penang, mainly off Tanjung Tokong, Gurney Drive and off Pantai Jerejak.

Unit Nelayan Tanjung Bungah chief Ismail Din, 74, said while the reclamation was far away from his area, he could empathise with the fishermen down south as he too was a victim of such reclamation in the past.

He said with the reclamation of Seri Tanjung Pinang in 2006, the catch in the area dropped significantly to about 20%. Today, he said that number has gone up to 60%.

Nelayan Komuniti Tanjung Tokong chief Mohd Ishak Abdul Rahman, 72, said he too was badly affected by the reclamation efforts going around the state.

“We do not get much fish any more. Nearly all of it is gone, almost 80%. The fish we get is enough only for our family. We can’t sell them. Now, just cari makan (for sustenance) only,” he said.

Ishak said trawling across the North Channel, which straddles Penang Island and Seberang Perai, has been difficult as their nets would often get caught in the silt.

He said the only solution now was for all those reclaiming land to provide fishermen with better boats, nets and engines to fish further out at sea.

Rivers silting up

Syahfizah Hawa Zamzuri, 30, who is a fisherman in Tanjung Bungah, said she was concerned that Penang’s marine life would be further affected by reclamation projects.

She said many rivers along reclaimed areas of Tanjung Tokong are often clogged, as a result of a build-up of sand at the river mouths.

“We are worried about our friends down south. We know how it will turn out. We have experienced it before and we are concerned about their welfare,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pangsapuri Tanjung Tokong Fasa 4A deputy chairman Abdul Satar Haris said based on a recent report by Sahabat Alam Malaysia, the reclamation project would clearly cause environmental degradation.

“The beaches of Permatang Damar Laut, Gertak Sanggul and Teluk Kumbar, which are pristine and beautiful, ought to be kept that way for future generations to come,” he said, referring to the coasts near where these three islands would be built.

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