A flotilla of about 150 fishing boats with about 500 on board has converged off the coast of Tanjung Tokong to protest against the inadequate compensation for land reclamation off Tanjung Tokong in Penang. The reclamation has jeopardised the livelihoods of the fishing community here and threatens to further undermine food security in the state.
A marine police boat was spotted at sea as well.
Online publicity material said the protest was organised by a group caling themselves Jawatankuasa Bertindak Hak-hak Nelayan (Berhak). Local residents believe the fishing settlement in Tanjung Tokong predated the arrival of Francis Light.
One of the fisherfolk at the protest today told a Penang Forum activist that he was reluctant to venture further away from the fishing area as he was unfamiliar with the waters beyond and the obstacles beneath the surface that could damage his nets, making the returns from the catch not worth his while.
He said he has been trying to fish a bit further out from the reclamation area. But even up to 0.5-1 km away from the cordoned site, the waters below are already barren, depending on how far the deposited silt has been dumped by currents – this despite the silt curtain that is supposed to be in place.
Massive land reclamation in Penang and elsewhere in Malaysia has been controversial, raising searching questions about the model of development those in power are pursuing in collaboration with high-end property developers. Not least is the question of sustainability of fisheries and food security. And many wonder why the price of fish and other seafood has soared in a state almost surrounded by the sea.
Well, wonder no more.