GEORGE TOWN: Holding up cutouts of dead fish and placards condemning a proposed mega reclamation project, some 1,000 fishermen and sympathisers staged a protest at the Esplanade padang today.
In a one-day hartal (general strike), about 4,000 fishermen had hung up their nets earlier to protest against the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, which calls for the reclamation of more than 1,800ha in an area deemed one of the richest fishery grounds in the northern part of the peninsula.
The fisherman came in fishing boats at the North Beach ghauts, and in cars from as far as Seberang Perai, and chanted anti-reclamation slogans for close to three hours.
Penang Fishermen’s Association chief Nazri Ahmad said about 4,000 fishermen had wanted to attend the protest but police only allowed 1,000 as part of the peaceful assembly permit.
He said today’s strike would show how wet markets in the state would suffer without fresh fish and to raise awareness that this could become a reality.
Nazri said the issue was not just about the fishermen’s rice bowl but also about the future of Penang’s food heritage.
“In just years from now, there may be no prawns for cucur udang and mee udang. And your char koay teow will probably just have a single prawn, sliced into two,” he told those present.
“The threat is real. The reclamation will severely affect the food chain. It will destroy Penang’s precious marine life and habitat. What are we going to eat tomorrow? Fish or concrete?”
The fishermen later handed a memorandum to a state government representative at the state assembly building and also to opposition assemblyman Mohd Yusni Mat Piah.
Yusni, of PAS, assured them that their grouses would be raised at the assembly meeting, which is being held until Friday.
The RM46 billion PSR project calls for three artificial islands to be reclaimed south of Teluk Kumbar to be later sold to the highest bidder, as payment for building highways, a Light Rail Transit line and other modes of transport under the Penang Transport Master Plan.