Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the Penang government, Department of Environment (DOE) and the Marine Department to conduct investigation and take immediate action to overcome the mud waste pollution at the waters off Teluk Bahang.
The problem which has been going on for the past one year has escalated recently and threatens the livelihood of more than 200 inshore fishermen in the surrounding area.
In a survey conducted by SAM, the affected fishermen informed us that the cause of the pollution is believed to be from vessels/barges containing mud waste or sludge, disposing the waste on their way from the reclamation site at Gurney Drive to Pulau Kendi.
In addition to mud waste there are also waste materials such as wood and iron waste that gets stuck on the nets of the fishermen, thus damaging the nets and causing loss of between RM300 to RM7,000 per person.
SAM understands that fish and shrimp which is the main source of income for the fishermen at the area is also depreciating, causing a drop of more than 50% of catch each time pollution happens.
Therefore, SAM requests the State Fisheries Department to conduct a meeting with the coastal fishermen of Teluk Bahang to address the problem as their livelihood is affected.
Compensation and assistance ought to be given to all the victims of the pollution as the damage to their nets is considerably high and they had to take more time to return to the sea after repairing the nets.
SAM regrets that even though the livelihood of the fishermen in the area has been jeopardized no serious attention or action has been taken by the responsible authorities.
SAM believes and is concerned that more impacts would occur to the environment and livelihood of the Penang inshore fishermen if reclamation projects are carried on. Look at what has happened in Tanjong Tokong, Gelugor, Batu Uban, Queensbay and Gurney Drive.
Sea is reclaimed, fisherman’s lives and livelihoods are threatened.
S.M. Mohamed Idris