Monday, June 29, 2009

Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association (PIFWA): The Heroes

It has been almost 5 years since the Tsunami hit us .. hopefully we have learned something from it. Actually, what is more important is to implement and practice what we have learn, otherwise the learning and experience will be useless.

Here I take the pleasure to reproduce this short write-up from Sustainability in Penangite Accent on how the Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association's foresight and hard work saved the day.


The birth of Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association (PIFWA), a community based nonprofit and independent organization, in 1994 was in response to the growing coastal development and resource depletion. PIFWA’s objective is to achieve solidarity among inshore fishermen and voice issues that affect their livelihoods. PIFWA promotes traditional and sustainable fishing practices and prudent management of the coastal environments, mangrove habitats, and river ecosystems.

In the late 1990s, PIFWA began a campaign to replant mangrove trees in Kuala Sg.Pinang, Nibong Tebal. Although many people shrugged it off and thought that it served no purpose, the fishermen continued planting the mangrove (Bernama, 2008). They replanted mangroves in many of the cleared coastal areas. With the assistance of SAM and CAP PIFWA shared their mangrove planting experience with other fishermen communities in Malaysia. In general their efforts were not appreciated by the local communities and the authorities. Sometime, they were treated as “trouble makers” when they raised the issue of the coastal management to the authorities.

The 26 December 2004 tsunami taught Malaysians the importance of conserving the natural environment and in turn changed PIWFA from trouble makers to heroes. The Indian Ocean tsunami hit Penang state causing casualties and destruction to many properties and facilities along the coastal area. Areas protected by the mangrove forest were undamaged or experienced less destruction. The PIFWA was praised for its foresight (Bernama, 2008). The Prime Minister announced a national plan to replant the mangrove forest along the Malaysian coast.

Many government departments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGO) provided support to PIFWA to continue its effort. PIWFA was awarded more funding for mangrove planting from the international donors, local authorities, and private corporations.


Have you heard about this statement ... "Only time will tell whether what we are doing is right or wrong" ? .. I guess it is a very true statement

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