Butterworth: Muddy waters choke fish


Muddy waters at Pantai Bersih, along the northern coast of Butterworth, have been causing concern among fisher folk.

It is not clear what is polluting these waters – not far from ports on the mainland and the island.

On a related note, Pantai Bersih is anything but – in fact, it is a haphazard eyesore of illegal and legal buildings right up to the coast line. Pity the poor residents of Butterworth as this  small stretch, as well as the Robena Park area, is their only recreational space after the Butterworth Outer Ring Road cut off access to the beach along most of the coast line.

These reports from theSun.

Sea of mud
by Himanshu Bhatt

Polluted waters off Butterworth killing marine life, say fishermen

Abdullah compares the muddy sea water to clear water.
SEBERANG PERAI (Oct 24, 2010) : The seas off Butterworth are being affected by a mysterious mud-like deluge that is killing fish and other marine life along a 5km stretch of shoreline.

The entire section of Pantai Bersih (Clean Beach), a popular recreation site, has been turned brownish-green up to about 15m into the sea from the beach area, north of Penang Port.

A source told theSun the Department of Environment (DOE) had collected samples of the water today and is investigating the matter.

It is learnt the deluge began about 10 days ago and has gradually been expanding and increasing in scale.

The source said the DOE was considering the possibility of the deluge having been caused by mud-dumping or illegal sea-bed sand mining.

When contacted, State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said it may also be due to “red tide” – a phenomenon where high concentrations of marine algae proliferate along a coastal area.

“This is the first time such a phenomenon has occurred here,” he said.

Phee said the authorities were keen to find out if there was any correlation between the deluge and earthquakes and volcanic activity in Sumatra as well as recent tremors on the Nicobar Islands.

“I have told fishermen to report it if they see any fish or marine creature that is unusual or not local to this area.”

Abdullah Hassan, 45, said he had not seen anything like this in his 30-odd years as an inshore fisherman along the Seberang Perai coastline.

“We have seen a lot of dead fish floating in the waters since this began,” he said. “Our incomes have dwindled as there are very few fish left along the shore.”

Lo Kiang, who operates a seafood restaurant on the beach, said it had been noticed that the surge of muddy water had moved in with the tide coming from further south along the Penang Channel.

Phee pointed out that mud-dumping is allowed only 6km from Muka Head on the north-western tip of Penang island, and 7km from the northern section of the channel.

“If it is mud, it should have been washed away and dissipated by now,” he said.

Mud-like deluge not linked to natural disasters

[email protected]

GEORGE TOWN (OCt 25, 2010): Fishermen need not worry about the mysterious mud-like deluge hitting the seas off Butterworth as it is not linked to any imminent natural disaster.

The deluge of mud – which started about 10 days ago and had increased in scale since – was probably due to the dredging works for the deepening of the north channel.

“The good news is that it was not due to continued earthquakes and volcanic activity in Sumatra or the tremors in the Nicobar islands as we have already checked with the meteorological department on this,” said state environment, health, welfare and caring society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

Phee also said some fishermen reportedly saw the barges from the dredging works dumping sludge near Kendi Island when they were only allowed to dump the sludge about 6km off Muka Head on the north-western tip of Penang island.

“The Environment Department will continue to investigate the source of this phenomenon and it will also be taking samplings of the water and the fish there to ensure that everything is okay there,” he said.

The department will come up with a conclusive report on the issue in one to two days’ time.

theSun had reported that the entire section of the sea, about 150m into the sea from the beach, off Pantai Bersih in Butterworth has turned brownish-green.

It is learned that the deluge started about 10 days ago.

Local inshore fishermen have reportedly noticed a lot of dead fish floating in the waters in that area since the incident. — theSun

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In the olden days, I could see my 10 little toes one foot under the sea water of Muka Head. In the olden days, I could jump into the sea off Gurney Drive without giving myself a second thought. In the olden days, I could sleep on the bench along Gurney Drive without fear of getting mugged. In the olden days, I could fish a plenty till 3am at the Paramount Beach near to City Bank. In the olden days, I could cycle hands-free along Macalister Road for 500 meters without avoiding any traffic. In the olden days, there were… Read more »


Ya, bad government happens when you spend all your time paddling, fishing and sleeping.


Please go visit the Scandinavian countries and see for yourself what lifestyle is most cherished there. And they Scandinavians are tops in the best country list, economic achievements and quality of life. And cycling is one of their healthy way of life!

Must we always subscribe to the dated, oversell, run of the mill viewpoint that material wealth and quality of life cannot go hand in hand, BUT life quality must be sacrificed as the expense for the other (like in China)?

Open your mind:





That was as much a reflective comment as it was aimed at you – I wasn’t expecting you to take it quite so sniffily!

Let me rephrase it:

“Ya, bad government happens when one spends all one’s time paddling, fishing and sleeping.”

I think it’s a restatement of Edmund Burke / John F. Kennedy’s


I think when they wrote / said that, it must have been much, much harder to emigrate.

Cik Guang

Talking about illegal buildings, Mr. YDP of MPSP, please pay a visit to Chai Leng Park.Building after building are illegally built on the vacant land behind Caltex petrol station and behind the semi-detached houses at Tingkat Kurau 8.Two cowsheds have also sprouted up there and the aroma of cowdung can be felt especially on rainy days.Lorry loads of building construction waste are dumped on the land by the owner of the buildings who owns some waste carrying lorries. The buildings,cowsheds,cows and waste materials can be clearly seen from Prai Main Road.If the MPSP is not aware of this, somebody must… Read more »

Gerakan K

Please “bersabar” until next GE, we will bring a better administrator to Penang.

The current one simply not good enough.

Charlie Oscar

Dear Anil,
Get the Penang Government to look at the problem lah!
Wonder who all the Pembangkang Rakyat (PR) Supporters are So Quiet on this subject???
Want to blame Others again???


Who is blaming who?

Gerakan K

There is supporter run amok !!!

Cannot accept criticism ???


It is the Lim Dynasty supporters who are blaming everybody else for everything.


Zozdaniel – you are right.Someone is not doing their job.I have been leaving in the Pantai bersih /Robina Park and Telok Air Tawar area last 35years, now it is a environmental desester zone.There is no recreational area for the people of Butterworth.Very sad indeed.


Anil, sorry almost totally unrelated – it is water, at least – I notice that the BBC story about this week’s Indonesian tsunami reports that the recently-installed buoys were non-functional, possibly vandalised. I thought I read – possibly on your site – something not so long ago about a Malaysian public-private partnership for ocean monitoring buoys. It’s possibly not quite the same thing, but I wonder if those buoys are non-functional – vandalised or not – whether there’s any indication of the condition of the Malaysian equivalents? Buoys that form part of a system monitoring ocean waves and measuring tides… Read more »


The likely source of the current muddy situation originate from the coastal reclaimation works at the Jelotong Expressway and Tanjong Tokong. The regulatory authority should have been more stringent in their monitoring and supervision of land fill materials brought in by these contractors. Very often, the contractors source their Reclaimation Materials, which is basically sea bed sand, from the nearest possible sources which are economically near to the coast rather than travelling far out to the high sea. The conposition of the extracted sand from near source normally have higher component of mud and silt, and these items are always… Read more »


Could be due to the discharge of sewage into open sea?

Or the ‘mud balls’ thrown into sea by those environmentalists?


muddy waters at sungai Bersih! thats ironic


Pantai Bersih used to be bersih when Prai wasn’t burdened by so many residents.

KL was once a clean town too, look at what it has become?