Media Statement 2 January 2020
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) supports the protest of coastal fishermen in Mukim Sebatu and Merlimau, Jasin, Melaka who are urging the revocation and cancellation of the approval given by the Melaka State Government for the implementation of a commercial cockle culture project here. Moreover, the Fisheries Department also did not support the company's application based on the fishermen's objections at the time and also because it would create a conflict between the fishermen and the company.
SAM learned that the Melaka State Government had approved the application for cockle cultivation by a private company and that a temporary occupancy license (TOL) to Swiss Tech Sdn Bhd was issued on December 9, 2016 for a 100-acre site.
SAM was informed that a survey by the Fisheries Department found that cockle spats (more than 4mm) and adult cockles were living naturally in the coastal area of Sebatu and that the Department was in the process of assessing the cockle density in order to manage this natural cockle breeding ground in accordance to the Fisheries Act 1985
In relation to this matter, SAM had sent a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Department of Fisheries and the Melaka State Government requesting that the objection is seriously considered and resolved promptly. SAM is concerned that if the project continues, it will not only impact the fishermen's livelihoods but also threaten the natural breeding ground of cockles, fish, shellfish and shrimp here and hence indirectly affect the seafood supply.
On November 16, 2019, a local newspaper (Sinar Harian) reported that Kuala Sebatu coastal fishermen held a protest action and sent a letter of protest to the Melaka Chief Minister's office urging the approval of the project in early November 2019 to be revoked. According to the Deputy Chairperson of the Sebatu Fishers, Zakariah Abu Bakar, 50, the area involved in the commercial project is the only area in Melaka rich in natural cockle spats and adult cockles.
He said the area was also abundant with fish and shrimp. If the project goes ahead, the fishermens’ catch area will be narrowed, besides threatening the livelihoods of more than 100 fishermen here.
SAM hopes that the Melaka State Government will consider the comments of the Melaka State Fisheries Office and the Malaysian Fisheries Department to withdraw/revoke and not continue with the TOL renewal granted to the company. The State Government should take immediate action to cancel the project to save the livelihood of the fishermen in the area.
Coastal fishermen who have been contributing to the country's economy and supplying seafood for the people should be supported and the government should not help those who exploit and threaten the natural environment.