Penang's fisherman have long made their living from the rich, shallow waters around the island but a bid by the state government to emulate Singapore and Hong Kong with its biggest infrastructure project to date could throw their future into jeopardy.
Local fishermen have joined a growing number of civil and environmental activists opposed to a plan to ease congestion on the island and provide better links to the mainland side of Penang state, all funded by a three-island land reclamation project said to rival Singapore's Marina Bay.
"It's going to be a disaster if the state does not think this through," said Nazri Ahmad, chairman of Persatuan Nelayan Pulau Pinang, the state's fishermen association. Nazri warned the environmental impact of the reclamation project would decimate fish breeding grounds and hurt the livelihoods of the state's 6,000 fishermen.
The Penang South Reclamation project was proposed to fund the 46 billion ringgit (S$15 billion) Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which is aimed at shortening commuting times and attracting more foreign investment in the state of 1.7 million people.