Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the Perak State Government, Kerian District and Land Office, Perak State Fisheries Department, Kerian District Fisheries Office, the local authority, Department of Irrigation and Drainage and all other relevant authorities take into serious account the interest of the local community following the development of an aquaculture project in Kampung Pandak Putih, near Kuala Kurau in the state of Perak.
The Kerian District and Land Office had previously informed that the status of the land was private land. However, SAM is of the view that the development on this private land should be reviewed by all the agencies that had provided their comments or gave technical support on certain aspects of the development.
Aquaculture ponds along the riverbank and the river reserve of the Kurau River will pose threats to the environment and subsequently the local community. Among the threats and adverse effects that will be faced by the local and fisher communities if this project proceeds are pollution due to the discharge of effluents from the aquaculture ponds, erosion of the Kurau riverbank, sedimentation of the river and problems arising from boats and other vehicles plying the area with their loads.
In the long run, the marine resources in the surrounding area will most likely dwindle and face extinction. This has caused concern among the villagers of Kampung Pandak Putih as well as local fishers because this aquaculture project will have a negative impact on the environment, their lives and livelihood.
The local community here questioned whether the state government took heed from the problems that occurred due to the operations of aquaculture ponds in neighbouring Sungai Kota, Bagan Tiang, Sungai Betol and Kuala Kurau. In the past, these aquaculture projects in had caused negative impacts on the environment, residents and local fishers here.
According to the Malaysian Coastal Fishermen’s Education and Welfare Association (JARING) whom submitted a memorandum to several government agency representatives during the coastal fishers dialogue on 16th July 2020 at the Kuala Bagan Tiang Fisher Jetty, the lives of coastal fishermen in Kerian district continue to be under pressure because the issues plaguing their lives and livelihood have not been resolved for so long.
Among the recommendations put forward by JARING in the memorandum is to cancel aquaculture activities in this area as well as cancel the construction of shrimp ponds on the banks of Sungai Kurau near Kampung Pandak Putih which will threaten fishery resources and catch of coastal and river fishers in nearby villages.
Apart from that, a review of the Draft Kerian District Local Plan 2035 found that this Plan did not mention the proposed aquaculture project to be developed in Pandak Putih. Furthermore, the types or categories of aquaculture to be introduced in this district focused on cockle culture, cage fish farming and ornamental fish culture.
In this regard, SAM and JARING urge the Perak State Government, Land and Mines Office, Kerian District and Land Office, Perak State & Kerian District Fisheries Offices, Irrigation and Drainage Department and other relevant authorities to cancel this aquaculture project to ensure the environment and welfare of fishermen as well as locals are protected.