Fishermen concerned over low tide

National 1 minute, 48 seconds

BELAIT

FISHERMEN from Liang are worried about receding water levels at Sg Lumut, saying that they have to push their boats on foot in crocodile infested waters before they can sail at the Lumut river mouth.

Although recent weeks have brought Belait fishermen a glut in fish supply, dry weather has caused lower than usual river tides.

At the Lumut jetty, just a few hundred metres shy of the river mouth to the South China Sea, fishermen reported that the tide can drop to knee level, forcing them out of their boats to push on foot when leaving or returning from sea.

Licensed fishing operator Hj Abd Ranni Hj Julaihi, who employs five foreigners full time and another five locals part-time to operate three power boats, said the construction of breakwaters at the river mouth five years ago had gradually lowered the tide along the river flowing out.

“It is not merely talk that there are crocodiles in the area. There have been sightings, attacks in the past, and even official signs have been placed around the river warning of crocodiles. Having to push on foot is not safe,” said the 61-year-old.

“We started noticing (the lower tides) a few years ago. But this year, because of the dry weather, the tide is even lower. So at times my men have to go out of the boat and push.”

Another fisherman, Habri, suggested that the stretch from the river mouth to the Lumut jetty be deepened by dredging.

“Dredging the whole stretch of river would be impossible, but dredging the route most used by the majority of fishermen would help prevent any crocodile attacks or other unwanted situations,” said Habri.

The village head of Lumut I and Belait district representative to the Legislative Council Yang Berhormat Hj Mohd Shafiee Ahmad said he would support the recommendation for dredging and bring it to the authorities' attention.

“The area should be dredged if the tide is consistently low. In the short term (if the tide is left low), it is not safe and in the long-term it may deter people from taking up fishing in the Lumut and Liang areas,” he said.

The Brunei Times