Since March 7, the chemical waste pollution in Pasir Gudang has not only affected the health of people around the region but also the livelihood of fishermen - they saw their catch decline and sales drop.
South Johor Fishermen's Association chairperson, Azli Mohamad Aziz, said 650 members of the association from several villages claimed their sales revenue had dropped by 50 percent over the last 10 days since the incident..
“The pollution has affected 250 fishermen from four villages around Sungai Kim Kim, namely Orang Asli fisherman from Telok Kabung, Kampung Perigi Aceh, Kampung Pasir Putih and Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, to whom the river was a source of income,” he said when met at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru fishermen’s market, in Johor Bahru yesterday.
He said about 400 fishermen had also received the backlash of the pollution, including fishermen from Tanjung Langsat, Kong Kong, Kampung Sungai Tiram and Bakar Batu, as sales slumped because people were afraid to buy their catch.
“The incident also led to a fish glut among fishermen, including those at Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen's Market because people were not buying fearing contamination,” said Azli who has been a fisherman for the past 35 years.
He said that normally, the sale of fish at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen Market was estimated at 100kg to 150kg per day with a total turnover of RM3,000 to RM4,000, but now it had dropped to 18kg to 30kg a day over the 10 days with sales between RM300 and RM600.
Over the last four days, two tonnes of fish and marine products worth RM5,000 had accumulated and had to be kept in the refrigerator in the market because there were no buyers.
Regarding the pollution in Sungai Kim Kim - rich in ikan kitang, selangat, belanak, ‘belukang and snails - Azli said he understood more than 40 police reports were lodged by Teluk Kabung Orang Asli fishermen since March 6, stating that the river water had turned turbid, causing fish to die and emitting a stench.