PETALING JAYA: The G25 group of prominent retired civil servants have called on the government to stop the Penang South Island (PSI) project immediately to protect the livelihood of fishermen.
The group said the previous federal government gave its commitment to achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that the reclamation project goes against several of these SDGs.
“One of them, SDG 14, covers the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
“The irreparable damage that the reclamation project will cause to the coastal area and to the marine and mangrove ecosystems will not only affect Penang’s coast, but the neighbouring waters of Kedah and Perak as well,” it said in a statement.
Not only that, the project will also lead to pollution and cause harm to the biodiversity of the waters as marine life would lose their hunting, breeding and nesting grounds, it said.
“It will disrupt the fishing grounds thus affecting the fishermen, the national fisheries sector, and the locals in the area, especially those from the lower income bracket who were able to buy seafood affordably directly from the fishermen,” it said.
The group also called on the state government to respect the rights of fishermen to protect their livelihood, adding that the fishermen won the appeal to revoke the 2019 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval for the project.
The group added that the state needs to move forward and consider more sustainable ways to develop for its future.
The RM10 billion reclamation project covers 17sq km and involves the development of three man-made islands in the waters off Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas.
It was mooted as a funding module for the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The project suffered a setback after environmental regulators allowed an appeal by fishermen late last year, who wanted it axed as it would affect their livelihood.
However, chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said reclamation work for the project was expected to begin in the third quarter (Q3) of the year, with approvals from the environmental regulators.