A recent survey by Mongabay found that 2,000 acres of mangrove Forest Policy Research have been destroyed in Sabah to make way for shrimp ponds. This development is illegal and violates environmental and local communities’ rights. There are currently plans to expand the project to 1,000 additional acres of community mangrove forests. The Malaysian government launched a new economic initiative in 2010 with the goal of turning the country into a high-income economy by 2020. In 2010, the government approved the establishment of the largest shrimp farm in the world, in the state of Sabah. The plan promised jobs for the local community and increased incomes for them, but at the same time, it ended up destroying the mangrove forest.
The new project was initially approved in 2010 as a way to tackle poverty in the region. It promised to create 3,000 jobs for local residents and the mangrove forests. However, the shrimp ponds were not fully approved until 2013 and Olon Somoi felt hesitant when government officials handed out job applications. The shrimp farm is located in a large mangrove forest in the district of Pitas, near the Telaga River.
In Sabah, the new shrimp farms have cut down over 2,000 acres of mangrove forest. The construction of the farms is part of the government’s Economic Transformation Programme (METP), which is a national strategy to turn Malaysia into a high-income country by 2020. The TETP has prompted many villagers to protest. A campaign is underway to stop the project and preserve the mangrove forests.
In Sabah, six indigenous villages live in an area known as the Telaga River. In the Telaga River district, they spend half of their time farming land and half of their time in the mangrove forest. The mangroves used to be harvested for their dark red tint, and the wood was used to build traditional houses and boats. Today, the area is rich in seafood, but the shrimp ponds are destroying the mangroves.
The proposed shrimp farms have been approved despite the concerns of the local communities. Aside from the fishermen, the teeming fishing community is also concerned about the effect the project will have on the seawater. The effluent from the shrimp ponds will affect the seawater, which is vital to the livelihood of more than 1,000 coastal fishers. Moreover, it will destroy the mangrove forests and other natural habitats.
The villagers in the area say the mangrove forest is sacred to them and should be protected. But the proposed shrimp farms are a threat to the environment and the livelihoods of the people. In fact, they are a major environmental issue. If they are not protected, the land is not healthy for locals. This is the reason why the villagers are attempting to save the mangrove forest.