Fish prices go up in two states

PETALING JAYA: The decision to reduce diesel subsidy for C2-class deep sea trawlers is taking its toll on fish supplies and prices in Penang and Klang Valley but has had little effect in other states.

With trawler operators in Penang remaining on strike, fish supply in the state has dropped by at least half, causing prices to go up by 15%.

In Klang Valley, fishmongers said prices have risen by 20% to 30%.

Trawler operators in several states have refused to go out to sea because they now have to pay RM1.80 (S$0.73)instead of RM1.25 per litre for diesel in a Government move to reduce subsidy.

Fishmonger Tan Soon Yeong, 33, said his business had been affected with prices going up by 15% in the past three days.

"Customers have complained about the increase. I have no choice but to pass the cost to them because of the shortage. I understand the trawler operators' predicament as it is not economical to go fishing anymore," he said at the Bayan Baru wet market in Penang.

Klang fishmonger Lee Chean Wee, who gets his supply from Sungai Besar, Bagan Serai and Selayang wet markets, said the price for deep sea fishes such as tuna and sardine had increased between 20% and 30% since the subsidy cut.

"It is also not so easy to get deep water fish at this time of the month."

Checks at the Kapar market in Klang showed that the prices of tuna and sardine had increased to RM9 per kg from RM6 and RM5 previously.

In Ipoh, a survey at the central market showed that although there was a slight drop in supply, there was still enough seafood.

Fish trader Chong Kok Leong, 65, said supply was "slightly affected" when the strike started on Saturday but it was now back to normal.

Another trader Leong Wai Siew, 41, said although he had only managed to buy 400kg of fish - down from 600kg previously - supply and prices were now back to normal.

K. Shanti, 46, said she usually had between 10 and 15 types of fish for sale but only managed to get six for the past few days.

Restaurant operator Hassan Ali, 45, claimed that the current fish prices were the worst in his 20 years of business.

"Tenggiri is now sold for between RM18 and RM20 per kg while kerisi is RM12 per kg. They used to sell tenggiri for around RM15 per kg while kerisi was RM8," he said.

Pahang fisheries director Datuk Mohamad Mat Saman said the current shortage of fresh fish supply was due more to the climate, adding that this was normal between April and July.

Johor Fisheries Department director Abdul Hamid Yasin said the subsidy cut did not affect the state much as it only had 82 deep sea trawlers.