24 Jun Penang defends southern reclamation project
Published by The Malaysian Insight • 24/06/2021 • 01:32 pm
Penang today gave its assurance that its fishermen and marine resources would remain protected and unaffected by the massive Penang South Reclamation project. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 24, 2021.
PENANG fishermen and the state’s marine resources would remain protected and unaffected by the massive Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, said the Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC) today.
In a 10-point rebuttal to claims made by Deputy Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Che Abdullah Mat Nawi on the project, the state government-linked company corrected the deputy minister in numerous issues involved.
For starters, it said that Che Abdullah was wrong in claiming 4,211 fishermen’s livelihood would be affected by the project.
“The initial number of fishermen provided by the Fisheries Department on March 26 was 858.
“Then later, on April 13, the department changed the number and gave a new list of fishermen numbering at 955. Either number is much less than 4,211,” PIC said in a statement.
It added that based on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, the impacted fishermen would be in-shore or coastal fishermen from Permatang Tepi Laut, Sg Batu, Teluk Kumbar, Gertak Sanggul (Tier 1, nearer to PSR), Seri Jerjak, Teluk Tempoyak, Batu Maung, Pulau Betong and Kuala Sg Burung (Tier 2, further from PSR) fishermen units.
On marine life, PIC said the project would not threaten the 87 fish species.
“According to the EIA and FIA (food impact assessment), all species found around the site, including the species mentioned, are commonly found in Malaysian coastal waters.
“The reclamation area is not a breeding ground for white pomfret, Chinese pomfret and prawns.
“The pomfret is a pelagic fish that normally lives and spawns in deeper waters. For prawns, their nursery grounds are in the estuary and mangrove swamps.”
PIC said that fish landing from the PSR area fishermen units (Batu Maung, Teluk Tempoyak, Gertak Sanggul, Sg Batu, Teluk Kumbar and Permatang Damar Laut) recorded 13,418.11 tonnes a year or 24.5% of Penang’s total fish landing, based on fisheries department’s information.
PIC also said that the fishermen could still go to sea to earn a living during and after the reclamation.
“Improving the livelihood of fishermen is also top priority in the project,” it added. It said the social impact management plan (SIMP) provided financial aid in the form of ex-gratia to the fishermen, new boat and engine, new floating jetties, a multipurpose commercial fishery building, new jobs and business opportunities, re-skilling, and free tuition and scholarship for fishermen’s children.
“The state government’s allocation for SIMP is estimated at RM100 million, the only project in Malaysia to date with such a huge sum for the local community improvement.”
As for the noise impact study and prawn migration studies caused by the project, PIC said that it can only be undertaken when reclamation works are ongoing.
“The consultant has taken the baseline noise and will compare it with noise generated during the reclamation and dredging works.
“The state government is in the process of appointing a suitable consultant to carry out the prawn migration study.
“The study involves long observation time, and can be carried out concurrently with the project implementation.”
As for the loss of mudflats, PIC said the affected intertidal zone (mudflat) is only 4% of the entire intertidal zone within Penang.
“There are still plenty of intertidal areas along the west and east coast of Penang Island and Seberang Perai.
“It should also be noted that mudflats near PSR are not breeding grounds for both prawn and pomfret, as explained earlier.”
On the issue of the loss of turtle landing sites, PIC said the southern coast of the island was not a popular turtle landing site compared with the northern coasts.
Another issue raised by Che Abdullah was on the loss of food source for marine mammals like dolphins.
PIC said that dolphins are known to feed on fish, which are mostly found in deeper waters and not shallow waters like the PSR area.
They said PSR is a long-term project that will benefit Penang as a whole with its inclusive approach adopted right from the planning stage.
“It is not an undertaking that seeks to benefit one group of people, or to marginalise a certain group of people.
“It is a project with something for everyone and in this case, we have put fishermen first. They top the list of project beneficiaries before others as the PSR’s SIMP has been designed especially for them.”
PIC said it hoped Che Abdullah and the public would not be misled by inaccurate information on the project as PSR was crucial for the economy and future. – June 24, 2021.
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