We, the members of G25 Malaysia, support the plight of the Penang Fisherfolk’s Association (Pen Mutiara) who are putting themselves on the line to fight against the development of the “Penang South Island” project (formerly known as the Penang South Reclamation project).
They are also calling for their rights as fisherfolk – whose livelihoods will be adversely affected by this mega-project – to be respected.
We applaud the fisherfolk who have been steadfast in their objection to the reclamation project since it was introduced in 2015, and in 2021 won their appeal to revoke the 2019 environmental impact assessment approval.
However, the Penang government has since submitted a new impact assessment for approval. We urge the new government to set aside the application for the new impact assessment for the project in the interests of preserving the livelihood of the fishing community and the fragile marine ecosystems of the surrounding area.
The reclamation work and the pollution it will cause will destroy the hunting, breeding and nesting grounds of marine life like the green turtle, among others, and their food sources. This will cause long-term harm to the biodiversity of the waters and negatively affect the food chain and swimming paths of animals that visit the area, like dolphins and porpoises.
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The reclamation work will also disrupt the fishing grounds, thus affecting the fisherfolk, the national fisheries sector and the locals in the area, especially those from the lower-income bracket who are able to buy affordable seafood directly from the fisherfolk.
The previous government was very vocal in its support of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its commitment to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals to become a sustainable nation by 2030.
But the reclamation project goes against several of these goals. One of them, goal 14, covers the conservation and sustainable use of 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.
We call upon the new government to put an end to this project for the sake of remaining true to its pledge to ensure a sustainable future for our nation.
While reclamation work in the state is a part of its past, the state needs to move forward and consider more sustainable ways to develop for its future. – G25
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