More catch due to reclamation works


A hard day’s work: Fishermen bringing in their catch in Teluk Kumbar. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

BALIK PULAU: The concerns of fishermen over reclamation works off the south of Penang island that it would affect their catch have been put to rest.

Prawn fishermen who use a traditional way of netting the prawns have been getting more than double their catch and they believe it is because the reclamation shields their fishing grounds from strong waves.

Fishermen along the coast of Teluk Kumbar, about 4km to the west of where Silicon Island reclamation is happening, are all smiles over this development.

Veteran fisherman Muhammad Long, 67, who grew up in the village, said the reclamation has brought him good fortune.

“We no longer need to travel far out as shallow waters here provide plenty for us.

“We stay within a 2km to 3km range from shore.

“On average, we net between 20kg to 30kg of prawns from a day’s work.

“This year, our highest record was 55kg,” he said, adding that in the past, such a catch rate was not possible so close to shore.

Muhammad, who is part of the Teluk Kumbar fishermen unit comprising some 140 members, brushed aside claims that marine catches have dwindled along the southern coast since reclamation works commenced last year.

“Most of us who frequently venture out to sea still receive ample catch day and night, unaffected by the reclamation works.

“As long as we remain hardworking, there is plenty of fish to sustain us,” he added.

Another fisherman Idris Ismail, 69, said after over 40 years of fishing, he saw improvements soon after the works began.

“I still go out to sea about 20 times a month to catch senangin (threadfin), bawal (pomfret) and kembong (Indian mackerel), and occasionally crabs.

“Recently, I noticed a 70% increase in catch compared to previous years, which I attribute to the ongoing reclamation as it creates more food and blocks strong currents from reaching the shoreline,” he said.

Idris added that it is unfortunate that at present, only one island would be reclaimed and that it is quite distant from their location.

“If two more islands were reclaimed closer to us, it would offer better protection from winds and waves, enabling us to farm fish in cages along the shore,” he said.

Reclamation for the 930ha Silicon Island was approved and began on Sept 1 and is expected to take between 10 and 15 years to complete in two phases.

The project’s planned developments include the Green Tech Park (GTP) and Heart of the Island (HOTI) business district to attract high-impact investments.

The GTP will feature advance high-value technology components, with research, design and development, high-tech manufacturing, advanced packaging, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) being the key focus area.

HOTI, meanwhile, is planned as a waterfront commercial hub which will serve as the pulse of the island.

The reclamation project was originally designed to fund part of the Penang Transport Master Plan, which includes the Pan Island Link, light rail transit (LRT) and other projects.

But with the Federal government fully funding the LRT project from Bayan Lepas to Tanjung Bungah, the reclamation was scaled down by 49%, with plans for two other islands shelved indefinitely.

Last month, 96% of Penang’s fishermen registered for the project’s social impact management plan to facilitate compensation benefits for those affected by the reclamation.

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