Found this extract in Kit Siang’s blog in 2014, when he expressed concern about a large reclamation project at Gelang Patah. Hopefully, his advice will remind all those indulging in such projects about the need to preserve our fisheries:
“I was puzzled and worried – once the reclamation is completed later, can these fishermen still look for fish on the reclaimed brown land which was blue sea before? How are they and their children to compete with foreign workers in order to land a job at the construction sites? Where is the kampung after all?
Coastal Fishermen and Fisheries
They are small coastal fishermen. The Department of Fisheries statistics tells us that there are 613 fishermen in western Johor Bahru, of which 415 are Malays, 147 Orang Aslis and 51 Chinese. Gelang Patah is the main fisheries centre of the western part of Johore Bahru. In the area of Pendas and Tanjung Kupang alone, there are some 250 coastal fishermen and 95% of them Malays.
Fishing might not be the dream job for everyone. The coastal fishermen go to the sea in small boats with outboard engines to fish by using small nets or traditional fishing tools. They are not the relatively well-off trawl boat fishermen with large boats, trawl nets and modern gears. But without these coastal fishermen braving the waves and baking under the hot sun, there will be no fish and prawns as sources of affordable food and nutritious protein for us.
Fisheries contributes to about 1% of GDP for Malaysia. But the contribution of coastal fishermen to our society, and their important role in shaping Malaysian culture and identity, cannot be assessed and valued based solely on the GDP numbers.”