BUTTERWORTH: The price of ikan kembong (Indian mackerel) may continue to soar if land reclamation in Penang is not stopped, warn fishermen.
Seberang Prai Fishermen Association chairman Mahadi Md Rodzi claimed that since the initiation of the Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation project at the northeast coast of Penang island, the catch of ikan kembong had reduced drastically.
"The coast between the island and mainland is an ideal breeding ground for ikan kembong.
"There used to be a lot of ikan kembong fry swimming in the water, but after the Seri Tanjung Pinang reclamation, we hardly see the fry anymore.
"In 2009, the price of never exceeded RM10 per kg and were commonly found in markets.
"But in recent years ikan kembong is now priced between RM15 to RM20 per kg due to the significant drop in their population," he told reporters in Bagan Ajam on Tuesday (July 23).
Earlier, Mahadi led a group of fishermen to protest and object against further reclamation projects in Penang, including the upcoming reclamation of 7km of the coastline in north Butterworth.
The state government signed a memorandum of agreement with Rayston Consortium Sdn Bhd (RCSB) in September last year.
The agreement amended several clauses of the Land Reclamation and Resettlement Agreement that was already signed between the state government and RCSB in June 1999.
The new agreement stipulates that RCSB will give 90.31ha to the state after it was given the right to reclaim 650ha, of which 243ha was reserved for Penang Port and 10ha for building low and low-medium cost housing for the resettlement of residents.
Mahadi said apart from the drop in fish population, affecting the livelihood of some 10,000 fishermen in the state, they were also concerned of increasing operational costs due to frequent equipment failure caused by the reclamation.
"The reclamation leads to changes in sea currents, and there is more mud and rocks in the seabed that are damaging our nets and traps.
"I hope the government will not sideline us by allowing the reclamation to spoil our source of income," he said before handing a memorandum to Telok Ayer Tawar assemblyman Mustafa Kamal.
Mahadi said the association would also give a copy of the memorandum to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to assist and halt the reclamation projects.
Also present at the protest were NGO members of Malaysia Nature Society, Sahabat Alam, Consumers Association of Penang and Penang Forum.