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When real assets are viewed as liabilities

Fisheries under threat in Penang - ANIL NETTO

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Why not develop fisheries in Penang to ensure seafood security for future generations instead of destroying precious fishing waters, Ravinder Singh writes.

Any right-minded person would think that thousands of hectares of sheltered sea that is nature-given and so rich in marine life is a precious asset that should be preserved to ensure seafood security for posterity.

Fish is a rich, cheap source of protein. But no, the Penang government thinks otherwise. It thinks the fishermen who harvest fish and other seafood here are a hindrance to development. They are seen as a liability that should be got rid of for development” (Penang South Reclamation) to take over the fishing grounds.

This is not an independent, well-studied view of the state government. It has been lulled into believing this by developers who are hell-bent on destroying these thousands of hectares of precious fish breeding grounds to make piles of money, without caring what happens to those depending on the seafood supplied to the markets by these fishermen.

“’Development by filling up more than 2,000ha of sea with concrete and tar will not ‘destroy just this much of the sea. The effects of reclamation will spread far and wide, destroying fish and other marine life in a much bigger area, perhaps up to a hundred times larger. This happens as the sea currents carry the mud and silt long distances in all directions from the site.

There is no such thing as “mitigating” this vast destruction of the sea around the reclamation area as no technology exists that can prevent the mud and silt dissolving in the sea water and being transported away from the reclamation site. Any talk of “mitigating” damage to the surrounding seas is hogwash.

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Neither is there such a thing as “rehabilitating” the sea around the reclaimed area, as the mud and silt that has been carried away will be carried back by the tides and washed up on the shore. This has been happening in other reclaimed areas, even though very much smaller than the PSR project.

If a farm on land is somehow destroyed, it can be set up in another locality. But if natural fish breeding grounds in the open sea are deliberately destroyed, can you set up another natural fish breeding ground in the open sea? Has this been done anywhere in the world?

The “determination” of the Penang government to destroy more than 2,000ha of rich fish breeding grounds is a foolhardy move. There is no replacement for the rich fish breeding ground that supplies seafood to tens of thousands of consumers.

Instead, why not develop the fisheries in Penang to ensure seafood security for future generations? Why look down upon fishing, which is a highly skilled profession? The fishermen are also very ethical people, unlike a lot of business people in the cities today who are so unethical, as shown by a Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry survey in 2014, which found that 95% of businesses are not done ethically.

Source: themalaysianinsight.com

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