Department of Environment (DOE) personnel inspect the Batu Feringgi beach for pollution. -NSTP/Courtesy of Khoo Salma Nasution.

GEORGE TOWN: Sea pollution at several beaches in the state has got fishermen and environmentalists worried.

Yesterday, Penang Forum member Khoo Salma Nasution revealed that there were dead fish on the shores of Teluk Bahang, and strange black sludge and oil deposits were washing onto the shore in Batu Ferringhi.

Today, the Penang Heritage Trust vice-president shared video footage and photos of the sea at Teluk Kumbar, where a rusty reddish-coloured layer was clearly visible.

Khoo, the situation had riled up fishermen, prompting one to lodge a police report.

In the report, the man said he went to sea to net prawns, and discovered a red-coloured layer on the surface of the water.

“I suspect this has got something to do with environmental pollution.

“The matter worries me and other colleagues because our income is affected when the catch is reduced.

“I made the police report to get the authorities to investigate the sea pollution in Penang,” he said. Barat Daya police chief Superintendent A.A. Anbalagan has confirmed receiving the report.

Khoo told the New Straits Times that there were usually a number of pollution sources — river effluents, landfill leachates and untreated sewage, waste from aquafarms that cause eutrophication, oil or chemicals spilt or dumped by ships, reclamation works, dredging waste dumped at designated sites or short dumped.

“Marine pollution in the state has reached a saturation point.

A water sample collected from the Batu Feringgi beach. -NSTP/Courtesy of Khoo Salma Nasution.

“Any responsible government would eliminate existing sources of pollution so that it can be isolated and cleaned up, instead of further polluting our seas through ambitious reclamation projects,” she added.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia’s president Meenakshi Raman said it was critical for the Fisheries Department and the Department of Environment (DOE) to investigate and clarify what was going on in the sea.

“We have been hearing complaints from fishermen about poor fish catches and discoveries of pollutants in the water.

“We urge the authorities to immediately explain what the problems are,” she added.

Penang Fishermen Association chairman Nazri Ahmad said the pollution was very worrying for fishermen.

He said their daily catch had been significantly reduced over the past five years.

“Our daily catch is already low. Now with the pollution, it will be worse,” he added.

Penang Environment Committee’s chairman Phee Boon Poh said DOE and the Penang Island City Council had been investigating since oil patches were first sighted near the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies in Teluk Bahang last week.

He said DOE was also investigating pollution off Batu Ferringhi, Teluk Kumbar and Miami Beach.

“We are investigating all reports of sea pollution. Since there is already a police report, we will give full cooperation on our fact finding to the authorities,” he said, adding that DOE staff had taken samples from all affected areas for testing.

Phee reiterated that the state government would not show leniency to the culprits.