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
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