BALIK PULAU: Massive reclamations have and will continue to plague Penang, threatening the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
Some 2,700 fishermen in the southern part of the state have been having nightmares following the state government’s proposed RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) to address traffic woes.
This is because the controversial project to build three man-made islands will almost certainly affect their livelihood.
Penang South Fishermen Association chairman Arshad Omar said the 1,751ha reclamation contained “omissions”.
He said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared by the project delivery partner (PDP), SRS Consortium, and presented to the fishermen did not explain the negative impact on them.
“SRS Consortium, in the EIA report, never mentioned about the ecosystem and that the catch in the area will be severely affected.
“An independent consultant appointed by Balik Pulau member of parliament Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya told us otherwise.”
Prior to this, Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) chief consultant for the project, Profesor Datuk Dr Sharifah Mastura Syed Abdullah, had, in a public briefing session, said the coastal reclamation would destroy the turtle landing area and marine habitat.
She had said the coral reefs and rivers at the southern part of the island, as well as the hydraulic parameters there, would be affected by the project.
During the May 2016 State Legislative Assembly sitting, the state government decided to postpone the proposed reclamation to fund the PTMP until the DEIA has been approved by the Department of Environment.
State Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong said two other reclamation projects by the DAP-led government were threatening the fishermen’s livelihood.
He said the Bayan Bay and Bayan Mutiara reclamations in Pantai Jerejak, both 24ha, and the Gurney Wharf reclamation in Persiaran Gurney (54ha), would bring the total reclamation to 1,828ha.
“This proves that the state government did not take into account the ecosystem, resulting in adverse impact on the environment that would affect the fishermen’s livelihood.
“What is worse is the state government’s betrayal of the people’s trust when it proceeded with the coastal reclamation in Pantai Jerejak, which is against its 13th General Election manifesto.
“Residents near the Pantai Jerejak reclamation site are also facing pollution problems, including complaints that the operators go beyond working hours until late at night.”