92.3pct fishermen registered to receive benefits under Silicon Island's SIMP

GEORGE TOWN: Some 92.3 per cent of eligible fishermen have registered for the Silicon Island Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP).

This includes 100 per cent registration from the Permatang Tepi Laut and Gertak Sanggul units as well as 92.3 per cent from the Teluk Tempoyak unit.

Penang Infrastructure Corporation Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said except for the Sungai Batu unit (with 54.22 per cent registration), the remaining units (Teluk Kumbar, Batu Maung, Seri Jerjak, Pulau Betong and Kuala Sungai Burong) had also recorded registrations above 92 per cent.

He said efforts were ongoing to engage the remaining eligible fishermen before the closing date by month end.

"The high registration rate reflects the trust and confidence of the fishing community in the state government's commitment to fulfilling the promised benefits.

"This includes ex-gratia payment, provision of new boats and engines, education assistance, new sheds, upskilling training, jobs and business opportunities," he said today.

It was reported last October that more and more fishermen near the reclamation site of the Penang government's Penang South Island (PSI) project were signing up to receive benefits under the SIMP.

After Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced on Sept 1 that reclamation works would start the same day, fishermen started visiting the Fishermen's One-Stop Service Centre (PPSN) to register for the SIMP.

Meanwhile, addressing concerns about mudflats, Farizan said it was important to note that the southern coastline had historically been muddy due to intertidal mudflats.

He said, additionally, garbage often washed up onto beaches after heavy rain, hindering fishermen's activities during low tide.

He said to mitigate this long-standing issue, the project proponent is committed to providing a 250m wide navigation channel, enabling fishermen to navigate regardless of tide conditions.

"Contrary to claims, dredging activities have not commenced and are only expected to start in 2027, in adherence to stipulations outlined in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

"As part of the approval conditions, monitoring of water quality also includes a 24-hour real-time monitoring of total suspended solids (TSS) and installation of silt curtains to further prevent the dispersion of sediment.

"The project proponent has also been diligently submitting water quality report to the Department of Environment (DOE) on a monthly basis since October 2023. To date, we have not received any queries or concerns regarding our water quality report from DOE, indicating that our submissions have been satisfactory as per the approval conditions.

"It is also worth noting that local fishermen usually catch fish in areas located beyond the project site. We received this information from local fishermen and we verified this using satellite images from an independent consultant that captured the movements of fishing boats in the southern Penang Island waters. The findings are also consistent with data from the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA)," he added.

As a responsible government to address claims of declining catch as a result of the reclamation works since September last year, Farizan said their officers from PPSN were immediately mobilised to engage with fishermen directly and conduct a comprehensive survey.

He noted that feedback gathered from these active fishermen uniformly refuted any discernible impact on their catch attributable to the ongoing project.

"It is essential to acknowledge that the state government is not dismissing the fact that reclamation may impact the ecosystem.

"This is why the PSI Ecology Offset Masterplan (PEOM) and SIMP are in place to mitigate and improve environmental conditions and fishermen's livelihood.

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