SAND dredging is destroying a known turtle landing site in Pasir Panjang, Segari, Manjung, say environmental bodies
The activity, near the estuary of Sungai Puyu, was spotted bylocal fishermen who then informed several environmental non-governmental organisations.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the organisation is concerned with the activity as the area is one of the main turtle landing sites in Perak.
“We are concerned that it will adversely affect the main turtle landing area here.
“Based on the Second National Physical Plan, all turtle landing areas in Peninsular Malaysia are classified as Environmentally Sensitive Areas Rank 1 and no development or land-use change is permitted except for low-impact nature tourism, research and education,” Mohamed Idris said, adding that the coastal area from the Pasir Panjang Recreational Forest to Pasir Pandak Beach, Tanjung Hantu, is a frequent turtle landing area.
“Turtle-egg collectors appointed by the Fisheries Department have often discover nests here,” he said.
“In fact, the coastal area and sandbanks near the estuary of the Puyu River are where most turtle nesting areas are found,” Mohamed Idris added.
He said the dredging is very likely to frighten away the animals and destroy the physical structure of the coastal area, rendering the area unsuitable for turtles arriving to lay eggs.
“It will alter the shape of the estuary and river bed, aside from disrupting the tidal currents and natural hydrological processes.
“We are also concerned that sand dredging at night with lights and noise may cause disturbances that keep turtles from coming to shore,” he said.
“Another possible impact is coastal erosion,” he added.
Other organisations and experts joining SAM in voicing concern over the matter are Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia, Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia, Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam, Turtle Conservation Society Malaysia, Persatuan Rekreasi Alam Sekitar Perak, and water quality expert Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Mohamed Idris said the long-term impact of the dredging will not only effect the turtle landing area, but also impact the area’s ecosystem and endanger the habitat of other animals in the area.
“We hope the state will consider stopping and not permitting any activity and land-use conversion that will impact an area that, under the government’s own definition, is an environmentally sensitive area.
“We also hope that the state or the relevant agencies would comply with and adopt physical plans, especially the National Physical Plan and other related policies, to protect the environment,” he said.
According to SAM field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, apart from an excavator, a barge and pipes have been in the area for at least a week.
He said the beach was a landing site for the endangered Green and Olive Ridley turtles.
The turtles land and lay their eggs in the area between March and June.
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam assistant secretary Noor Ismady Ahmad Radzuan said he had checked with the Drainage and Irrigation Department and was told that the dredging activity was to alleviate flooding issues in Segari.
“Let it be known that the affected area is mostly oil palm plantations and there are no people staying nearby.
“We find it really suspicious as to why the river os being deepened there,” he said, adding that there is also a signboard stating the area is being dredged for sand.
“We are also suspicious as to where the sand that is being removed is going,” he added.
Noor Ismady said he is saddened by the activity in the area.
“We have been doing so much conservation work to ensure the environment here is looked after.
“ Just last year, we found several turtle nest here with eggs, at the very spot the dredging is being conducted,” he said
“We have already lodged a report to the Manjung District Office and hope the DID will also look into what is actually going on in the area,” he added.
When contacted, a State Land and Mines Department spokesman said they the matter is being investigated.