This is ground zero of the proposed 4,500-acre land reclamation site off the southern coast of Penang Island, where the state government plans to build three artificial islands.
Supporters of the reclamation claim the area is hardly a major fisheries area.
But as the video above shows, these fishing waters yield large hauls of ikan kembung or Indian mackerel (widely know as ikan rakyat or the people’s fish) for the fisherfolk, especially during the rainy season like now.
During bountiful times like this, the fish are sold at just RM10 – RM20 per bakul (basket), according to Zakaria Ismail, the Sungai Batu fishing unit head – a highly affordable source of protein. Compare that to the fish from aquaculture farms, which tend to be more expensive.
At other times, the fisherfolk haul in udang besar, the larger prawns, which earn them a decent income while satisfying the palates of locals and visitors alike.
“This is the proof,” says the fisherman in the video, filmed at around 9am today. “This is not empty talk, it’s not our coffee-shop talk. We’re showing you videos and photos….
“Our sea has abundant marine life – fish and prawns – that provides a good livelihood for the fisherfolk. If this place is reclaimed, we won’t see this anymore. Maybe by then the fish prices will be RM20/kg or even RM50/kg, because there will be hardly any fish left here.”
So, do we really want land reclamation to erode our (affordable) food security for the ordinary people, resulting in higher fish prices for all?