Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urged the Perak state government and the Fisheries Department to investigate the cockle culture project from Kuala Gula until Kuala Sepetang in the District of Kerian because it is affecting the activities and source of income of more than 1,000 coastal fishers here. The affected coastal fishers are from Kuala Gula, Kuala Kurau, Kuala Selinsing, Kuala Sepetang, Kuala Sungai Pinang and Sungai Protan.
In a survey conducted by SAM, it was found that the cockle culturists here have erected thousands of stakes in the estuary and the sea, causing difficulty for the coastal fishers to cast their nets. It also endangers the fishers whereby there are several cases of boats being damaged after hitting the stakes.
This problem has become more serious since the past ten years because there are more cockle culturists now and the culture area is also widespread.
The affected coastal fishers are concerned with this development and they claimed that the culturists also spread cockle spats in natural areas and areas not approved by the authorities.
These actions not only cause the coastal fishers to lose the fishing area where they have been depending on for generations but also pollute the sea bed and coastal area.
The use of 30kg iron nets (tangguk besi) by the culturists to harvest the cockles causes the sea water to stink. Subsequently the stock of fish and prawn that are the main catch of the fishers here have dwindled and affected the fishers’ income by 30 to 70 percent.
SAM is disappointed that although this problem had been raised to the relevant authorities numerous times but no action has been taken. Hence SAM hopes that the Fisheries Department and the Kerian District Land Office will stringently enforce the existing rules so that the coastal fishers’ livelihood is protected.