Local fishermen in the Kerupang and Nagalang waters were left dismayed when their fish traps and artificial reefs were severely damaged as a barge engaged in sand mining ploughed through their fishing grounds.

The incident, which occurred on Oct 7 around 8 am, has caused significant financial losses for the affected fishermen.

Suhaidi Talip, a representative of the local fishing community expressed his concerns regarding the devastating impact of the sand mining operation.

He reported that his five fish traps, locally known as 'bubuh', and six artificial reefs constructed from tires, known as 'raba', were among the casualties of the barge's passage.

In the aftermath of the incident, other fishermen in the area are still assessing the extent of the damage to their traps and artificial reefs.

Suhaidi said had they been informed about the sand digging project in advance, they could have relocated their fish traps to safer locations.

"Our revenue comes from these fish traps...once they are damaged, we have to invest both time and resources in reconstructing and anchoring them, which will significantly disrupt our livelihood," he said when contacted by Bernama today.

The affected fishermen are now demanding compensation for the damages inflicted on their fish traps and artificial reefs and claimed that compensation was essential to help them recover from the losses incurred due to the unexpected incident.

In response to the concerns raised by the fishermen, the contractor involved in the sand mining project issued a brief written explanation as sighted by Bernama.

They clarified that the project had received approval from local authorities, including the Labuan Marine Department and that the contractor had also taken proactive steps to address the issue by meeting the affected fishermen at Nagalang Restaurant to provide them with a detailed explanation of the sand mining project.

Juniaddi Awang Tuah, the director of the Labuan Irrigation and Drainage Department (DID), confirmed that the sand collection was for the construction of a RM11 million sea wall project at the Sg Miri/Sg Pagar Beach that is facing critical erosion.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency