High price to pay

Across the coun­try, and es­pe­cially in Pe­nang, the weather is tak­ing a toll on fish­er­men. In flood-hit Pe­nang, fish­er­men are not go­ing to sea and fish farm­ers have lost a large amount of their stock. Else­where, with the mon­soon set to strike, many are also

The Star Malaysia - - News -

BUT­TER­WORTH: The 15-hour storm which caused floods in many ar­eas in Pe­nang also brought mas­sive losses to fish farm­ers when hun­dreds of their cages be­came dam­aged.

Fish farmer Ooi Hye Hin, 54, said strong waves pounded his 150-cage farm in Teluk Ba­hang and caused about 40% of the fish to es­cape, adding that about 10% of his cages and nets were dam­aged.

South Se­berang Prai Eco-Tourism De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Kuan Hin Yeap said about 20 fish farm­ers in Tam­bun and Sun­gai Udang told him 90% of their cages were dam­aged in the storm.

“The farm­ers op­er­ate about 500 cages there, each with about RM15,000 worth of fish, be­sides equip­ment.”

At the Se­berang Jaya mar­ket, fish­mon­ger Mohd Jamil Mat Ziad, 31, said his sup­ply of mack­erel, bream and tor­pedo scad had dropped by 30% as fish­er­men were not go­ing out due to rough seas and gloomy weather.

“Due to the short­age, prices have in­creased but my profit has dropped as I have to main­tain the price for my cus­tomers,” he said when met yes­ter­day.

An­other fish­mon­ger, Lee Ah Hwa, 63, said the sup­ply from fish farms and fish­er­men in Pe­nang had been re­duced due to the storm on Nov 5, although the fish sup­ply from Perak was not af­fected.

“My cus­tomers are left with fewer choices these days,” he said.

Fish­er­man Mazidud­din Musa, 54, from Sun­gai Udang, Ni­bong Te­bal, said his catch had been dras­ti­cally re­duced and he had no ex­pla­na­tion for it.

“My daily catch has fallen by al­most half and I’m forced to slightly in­crease the price. I can­not dou­ble the price, so I earn less now,” he said.

Pe­nang In­shore Fish­er­man Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ilias Shafie said so far, he had not re­ceived any re­ports of fish­er­men get­ting re­duced catches as they were still go­ing out to sea as usual.

“It is a com­mon prac­tice for some fish­er­men to claim that catches were re­duced in hopes of jack­ing up the price,” he said.

How­ever, the dam­age to fish farms is a boon to an­glers.

Pe­nang Fish­eries Depart­ment of­fi­cer Mohd Syahrul­nizam Is­mail said an­glers and those who go out to sea now would prob­a­bly get more siakap, grouper and snap­per which es­caped from the farms.

A fish­er­man who wanted to be known only as Ban said his re­cent trips to bring an­glers out to sea had yielded fairly good catches.

“Nor­mally, we get only a small haul but af­ter the storm, an­glers have been get­ting big­ger fishes like the ones served in lo­cal restau­rants.

“Although there’s no way we can as­cer­tain where the fish came from, the an­glers are def­i­nitely get­ting bet­ter catches,” he said.

— AZLINA AB­DUL­LAH/ The Star

Fresh is best: Fish­mon­ger Neo Sook Meng ar­rang­ing bawal hi­tam (black pom­fret) at her stall in TTDI mar­ket. The price of fish is higher now due to bad weather.

Business must go on: Mohd Jamil en­ter­tain­ing a cus­tomer at his stall in But­ter­worth.

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