Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post/Tangerang
Hundreds of shrimp farmers who manage some 2,000 hectares of shrimp ponds along the northern coast of Tangerang regency complained of industrial waste in Cisadane River destroyed their shrimp farms.
""We don't know how and when to resume business since we depend on the river estuary to do the farming,"" Sarta, 45, one of the shrimp farmers in Tanjung Pasir village, Teluk Naga district of Tangerang regency told The Jakarta Post recently.
The farmers had stopped business last year after losing lots of shrimp prior to the harvest season for the last two consecutive years.
""I suffered Rp 18 million (US$1,956) in losses in 2002 and another Rp 8 million last year. We decided not to continue shrimp breeding and changed to mujair (fresh water fish) and bandeng (milkfish) breeding, which is easier but doesn't sell as well as shrimp,"" Sarta added.
Similarly, Fuad, 40, a shrimp farmer in Sukawali village, Pakuhaji district, said that he had also suffered more than Rp 10 million in losses over the past two years due to the deadly waste that polluted his seven hectares of farming.
But now the farmers have another fear -- a higher level of sea pollution that could also destroy their bandeng farming.
""Therefore, I always monitor media reports on waste ... If the waste level is high we will harvest the fish before they are killed so we will not suffer too much in losses,"" Fuad said.
Sarmili, 56, of Marga Mulya village, Mauk district, added that a more serious problem being faced by shrimp farmers was the continuous beach erosion that had claimed 70 hectares of ponds in his village.
""Soon, other ponds will be gone as well,"" he said.
Head of Tangerang's Fishery and Maritime Agency, Yodhie Rossadi, confirmed that the high level of pollution had forced the shrimp farmers to change to other businesses.
He also revealed that at least 52 erosion points along the 51-kilometer northern coast was caused by illegal sand mining activities.
""It is already difficult for us to cope with the beach erosion. It's the local residents themselves who mine the sand -- it's their only source of living,"" he told the Post.