Fish prices in Malaysia have risen drastically due to a decrease in fish sighted off the country's waters, Malaysia's National Fishermen's Association (Nekmat) said, according to Malaysian news site The Vibes.
A source from Malaysia's Fisheries Department told Malay news portal Getaran that the issue was not just due to unpredictable weather, but claimed that this was due to uncontrolled overfishing and illegal fishing off Malaysia's waters.
70 per cent less fish sighted off Malaysia's waters
Nekmat's chairman Abdul Hamid Bahari told Getaran that fish sightings, especially in Malaysian's northern waters, have decreased by up to 70 per cent.
Nekmat previously cited poor weather conditions over the past two months as a reason for the drop in fish stocks, going from a million tonnes to just 300,000 tonnes.
Abdul said that the reduced fish supply had caused the price of fish to increase, and fishermen's incomes to decrease.
He said that the price of a small-sized mackerel is now sold between RM12 and RM14 (S$3.77 and S$4.39) per kg, when it used to be sold between RM3 and RM4 (S$0.94 and S$1.26) per kg.
A source from Malaysia's Fisheries Department told Getaran that the drop of fish sighted in Malaysia's waters has been a problem since 2015.
But the Department is now concerned that the amount of fish is decreasing due to the number of large catches every year.
The source claimed that "unreported and unregulated fishing activities", or illegal fishing, in coastal waters was one of the main factors that contributed to the shrinking fish sightings.
An alleged fish cartel, foreign manpower crunch
A spokesperson from the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) also claimed that a fish cartel is making the problem worse by controlling the supply and prices of fish in the market, Getaran reported.
Nadzim Johan, lead activist at PPIM told Getaran that the cartel (if it does exist) supposedly reduces the supply of fish in the market, and increases the prices in order to profit.
He also accused the cartel of controlling the middlemen involved in transporting fish, and for lending money to fishermen.
Malaysian news site Berita Harian reported that fishing boats were also facing a manpower crunch, and have been unable to get enough foreign crew members.
Certain boat operators also said they had to bear higher maintenance costs due to the increase in the price of goods.
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Top photo via Lembaga Kemajuan Ikan Malaysia/FB