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Bridge piling works blamed for depleting marine life

by Himanshu Bhatt

SOME 85 fishermen at Kuala Tengah along the Jawi coastline have been hit by dwindling marine harvests due to pollution brought on by the construction of the Second Penang Bridge.

Inshore fishermen are up in arms over pollution brought about by the construction of the Second Penang Bridge.  
The inshore fishermen, most of whom have been operating along the Jawi River and the Penang Channel for generations, complained that large-scale dredging activities for hundreds of piles along the seabed have caused significant depletion of marine species.

"So many fishes have disappeared over the last two years," said Azman Ahmad, 43, head of the fishermen’s unit in the area.

"The dredging kicks up so much mud, causing the water to become full of silt. Large amounts of these sediments have even washed up to the shores.".

The fishermen also claimed that deep underwater piling for the bridge caused massive vibrations, some of which could be felt 10 km away.

"So many species have vanished. We are at a loss over what to do as we have been plying our trade here for so many years," Azman said.

He said the fishermen, who are based at the Changkat Jetty along the Jawi River, have sent an appeal to the government for help through the Malaysian Fisheries Board, but has yet to receive any response.

"We are not against development, but are asking for the government to look into our plight and give us fair compensation to help us deal with loss of income," he said, adding the community had asked for bigger boats and nets so that they can foray further into the sea where fishes can still be found.

Tan Yeow Kheng, 70, who has been fishing in the area for the last 55 years, said the phenomenon of depleting marine species there only began over the last two years.

"This place used to be rich will all sorts of catches. We hope the authorities will be sensitive to our plight and render assistance to us."

He said the underground piling was so intense that it drove high tsunami-like waves towards the shores. - theSun

Updated: 21 Jun 2010