Is data on the South Penang recovery project being manipulated to deceive?


An article in The Star on August 3 claims “200 satellite images confirm low fishing activity at PSI site (southern Penang Islands)”.

What is there to back up this claim?

The promoters of the project, with the strong backing of the Penang government, have an agenda: to bulldoze the South Penang Rehabilitation Project. To do this, they produced many visuals, including videos and animations, to show the beauty and luxury of the place.

Property developers also produce lots of beautiful brochures about their planned projects, which when completed are rarely the same as what was shown.

As there are strong protests from the local community, including more than 5,000 fishers, the project developers need to show that the 1,800 ha reclamation site is not the rich fishing area that the fishermen claim she is.

The state’s executive adviser for infrastructure and transport, Zairil Khir Johari, even said the site was nothing more than “shallow, muddy water”.

The “shallow and muddy waters” are where the best prawns and pomfrets are found.

So the recent emergence of “satellite images” showing very little fishing activity in the area is another attempt to mock the people of Penang.

Are small inshore fishing boats big enough to be detected by satellite cameras?

In addition, the boats go out to cast their nets when the tide rises and then they return to the base. A few hours later, they come out to haul up the nets. Now, if the photos were taken as the boats returned to base after setting their nets, no boats would be seen in the photos.

In the case of photos taken at night, would the small battery-powered lights of the coastal boats be visible?

It is not uncommon for data to be manipulated to create a certain perception. There could be hundreds of photos showing lots of inshore fishing boats in the recovery area, but it would not be in the project proponents’ interest to show them.

It is a known fact that trawlers from zone B often encroach on zone A to catch shrimp and fish. Now, if there is nothing to fish in Area A (Teluk Kumbar bay) as Zairil hinted, why would trawlers encroach on the area at risk of being arrested by marine police ?

The environmental impact assessment showed “expert” conclusions that inshore fishermen could get better catches further offshore. What kind of study has shown that? Did the experts carry out daily hands-on deep-sea fishing experiments for at least 6 months before reaching this conclusion? Or did they spend six months fishing with the inshore fishermen to get real first-hand information on the richness of this fishing area? Otherwise, their “discoveries” would be pure speculation, right? – August 9, 2022.

* Ravinder Singh reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the author or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. The article may be edited for brevity and clarity.


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