Jul 26, 2007

A postcard from Choo

How nice! I got a postcard from Choo Chee Kuang today! If you recall, Choo runs Seagrass Watch at Pulai just opposite our Tuas monitoring site, and also champions the Save our Seahorses campaign in Malaysia. He visited TeamSeagrass in Mar 07

He writes...

"Dear Ria, hope you and the team are well. I've been to South Africa recently to attend a conference on Conservation Biology. Many speakers have urged scientists to take one further step to influence the decisions of policy makers on resource management. It reminds me that you all have been doing this so 'prehistorically' and so effectively. I really admire your passion, spirit and motivation. With fondest thoughts, Choo"

We miss you too Choo! Your visit was too short. But alas, we know you have work to do.

Sadly, this news is just in about fishermen in Pulai, severely affected by developments there. We wish you all the best Choo in your efforts for your shores.

Choo has just informed that the Save our Seahorses group have started a petition regarding the development of Pulai. They are aiming for 5,000 signatures. All are welcomed to leave their signature and comments.

"Malaysian fishermen fight to save livelihood"
By R. Sittamparam New Straits Times 26 Jul 07

GELANG PATAH: Fisherman Abdul Rahman Salleh put his 11 children through school on the money that he made catching fish in the Sungai Pulai estuary. He even bought a low-cost house in Desaru, from the income that he made selling the grouper, snapper, pomfret and lobster that he landed.

But these days, he has little to show for hours of work. "Today, we’re lucky to catch a handful of prawns," said the 55-year-old chairman of the Kampung Ladang Hujung Fishermen’s Club.

Abdul Rahman, who represents 500 fishermen from Pendas to Gelang Patah, has been forced to sell his house to make ends meet. He said the estuary’s bounty has been in decline over the last 20 years following the construction of a port, bridge and power plant.

As if that were not bad enough, there are now plans to build an industrial estate in the area which will host heavy industries. These include makers of plastics, paints, pesticides and chemical products. There will also be a chemical incinerator and facilities to process toxic and hazardous wastes.

Part of the development eats into a 91sq km area that is gazetted as protected wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. More than 900ha of mangroves could be cleared and 15ha of submerged land along the river’s west bank reclaimed, according to the mandatory study on the project’s environmental impact.

This could cause some 500 families living here to lose their traditional way of life and source of income.

The full report on wildsingapore.

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