PD fishermen concerned as oil refinery expansion project affects income

— Almost 400 fishermen have raised concerns about their source of income being affected by the oil refinery expansion project in Port Dickson that is believed to have started two months ago.

Checks by reporters at the affected area found that fishing boats were only allowed to fish about one kilometre away from the site of the project, restricting their movement.

Port Dickson Fishermen’s Association (PDFA) chairman Mohd Zulkifli Mohd Taib said the project would not only limit the fishing area, but also destroy the marine habitat.

“It will also destroy the coral reef that is the breeding ground for fishes which would reduce the fish population. Restoring the reef is not an easy task, as it will take seven to 10 years.

“We are not against any development here, but our fishing grounds have gradually been taken over, and we are not even allowed to enter the area near the construction project. This makes it difficult for us to make a living,” he told reporters after inspecting the fishing grounds here today.

Mohd Zulkifli said that they were yet to be updated about the status of the RM6.5 million compensation that they had sought, and hoped that there would be a ‘win-win’ situation for both parties if the project was to continue.

He said PDFA had previously held discussions over the matter with several parties, including the state Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Action Committee chairman Datuk Bakri Sawir.

“We want due consideration, and hope that all parties, including the local authorities and state government will intervene to solve this problem,” he said.

Fisherman Mohamad Amin Rahim, 28, said most of the fishermen there had suffered losses and risked having their nets get caught by ships at the project area.

“We have to take risks that our fishing equipment will get caught by ships going through the area or entangled with the buoys set up by the company in question,” he said, adding that incomes have dipped below RM1,500 a month lately.

Meanwhile, Bakri, when contacted by Bernama, said that a team would be sent to observe the area on March 22, while discussions would be held with the relevant departments to resolve the matter.

“We have had discussions with the fishermen previously and met with various parties, including the Marine Department, the Port Dickson Municipal Council and the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority. After all the evaluations are completed, we will make the necessary decision,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

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