KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 ― The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry placed four conditions on the Penang state government for its Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, Parliament heard today.
In his reply to Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (BN-Kepala Batas), Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the conditions were conveyed via the Malaysia Fisheries Department.
“The ministry through the Fisheries Department has recommended the following mitigating steps that must be carried out without failure to the Penang state government:
“Gazetting a fishery conservation zone along the coastline from Pulau Betung to Teluk Bahang including the seaside up till one nautical mile. Gazetting middle bank as a fisheries protected area.
“Modifying the island's shape by providing a subtidal zone migration route of at least one to two meters deep during low tide with adequate width at the southern part of the island to allow large white prawns and Sua Lor prawns to migrate from the eastern of Penang to its western side.
“The Penang state government must conduct two studies ― the ontogenetic migration of peanaus merguiensis and Metapenaeus ensis and the impact of dredging and reclamation of PSR on the two prawn populations and their fisheries (one year cycle complete) and;
“Noise pollution impact on fish due to dredging and the reclamation of PSR,” said Salahuddin.
He also told the Lower House that the Penang state government should look after and provide adequate compensation to fishermen whose livelihoods had been affected by the project.
Reezal had asked if PSR will have any adverse effects on the fishermen's catches and if the group with be equitably compensated.
Salahuddin admitted that the PSR will affect 4,996 fishermen, and 1,442 of whom are traditional Zone A fishermen.
He estimated that 51,184 metric tonnes of marine catch worth RM555 million a year as well as 511 aquaculture farmers producing 45,742 metric tonnes of marine fishes worth RM1.67 billion will be disrupted because of the project.
The Fisheries Department clearly stated that PSR will destroy and have residual impact on mudflat ecosystems, fishing ground, turtle landing zones and part of the coral reefs at Pulau Rimau which is an important ecosystem for the local marine life.
The reclamation areas will also disrupt the feeding grounds, nursery and main migration route for the white prawns and Sua Lor prawns and also affect their population.
However, any attempts to mitigate the problem can only be conducted after the 15-year reclamation process has been completed.