Keeping a close eye: Kampung Air Masin chief Lim Thiam Hock (right, standing) observing his ‘kelong’ to check on the condition of his fish at Kukup in Pontian.
PONTIAN: The future of Kukup, the state’s biggest fishing village, is under threat from the constant water pollution that had affected the daily catch of fishermen there.
Kampung Air Masin chief Lim Thiam Hock said pollution from passing vessels and land-based pollutant discharges from rivers all play a role in the dwindling catch.
He pointed out that the 150-year-old village has more than a 100 fishermen with 76 kelong (fishing stations built on stilts) spread across the Malacca Straits, which is the highest in Johor.
On a good day, Lim said the fishermen here could easily catch more than 100kg of fish in the open sea, however, due to pollution and other factors including weather, the number has dropped.
“Nowadays, we are lucky to get more than 50kg, and have to rely on our kelong to supplement our catch.
“The oil from passing vessels and agrochemicals from plantations nearby rivers have made life difficult for fishermen,” he said in interview.
Lim added that there have also been cases of oily sludge getting trapped in the kelong nets that resulted in huge losses for the fishermen, and that an episode in 2012 that affected kelong in Tanjung Piai and Kukup caused millions of ringgit in losses.
“Our hope is that the pollution will stop as measures must be taken to ensure the village continues to prosper for another 100 years to come,” he said, adding that the villagers have voiced their frustrations to the relevant agencies on the future of the village.
When contacted, state Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state environment department would send a team to investigate claims made by the villagers.