IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Fishermen in several Malaysian states have warned of a price increase for fish and other seafood as they brace for a considerably lower haul caused by the rainy season that leads to rough seas, and forcing fishermen to stick closer to the shoreline.
The harvest of vegetables is also expected to drop during the monsoon, causing a spike in prices.
Perak fishermen expect the price of seafood to rise by between 20 and 60 per cent soon, as yields are lower.
Ms Jeanne Khor, secretary of the 300-strong Pantai Remis Fishermen Association, said the rainy season could cut the fishermen's catch by 50 to 60 per cent.
She said the price of mackerels could rise from between RM5-RM6 (S$1.60-S$1.95) and about RM10 a kilogramme, and sardines from RM4 to RM7.
Heavy rains inundate Malaysia from around November to January, often flooding the eastern and northern states in Peninsular Malaysia, and accompanied by strong winds at sea. Penang, Perak and Kedah states were hit by flooding last week.
Said Perak's Kuala Sepetang Fishermen Co-operative representative Bee Liang Chai: "It rained heavily in the last two months but even though there is less rain now, the catch has decreased compared to previous years."
In central Melaka state, Rashid Mat Zin, 47, said fishermen like him usually stick closer to the shoreline to cast their nets during this period.
"Monstrous waves and strong winds make it hard for us to control our boats," he said. "It is the worst this year because of the unusually heavy rainfall and strong winds.
He added that only the larger fishing vessels could endure the rough seas.
Azli Mohd Aziz, president of the South Johor Fishermen Association blamed middlemen for the sharp increase in fish prices during monsoon.
"We are still selling our fish at RM10 per kilo, while the middlemen who buy from us are using the rainy season as an excuse to hike up prices by RM18 to RM20 per kilo," he said. "I feel sorry for the consumers as they are forced to pay premium prices for their fish now."
Meanwhile, Cameron Highlands Malay Farmers Association chairman Syed Abdul Rahman Syed Abdul Rashid said he was expecting a 20 per cent to 25 per cent drop in the harvest of vegetables during the rainy season.
He said the rain could also cause vegetables to be affected by fungus growth or bacterial diseases.
He said tomatoes are expected to cost RM4 per kg from RM3, while cabbages will go from RM1.20 to RM2.
The prices of fish and vegetables in Singapore are unlikely to be affected by the monsoon, said trade groups.
The Singapore Fish Merchants’ General Association said prices of fish in Singapore will not be affected.
“The market demand in Singapore is not very high, so usually the prices will not be impacted because the demand is generally weak,” said a spokesperson at the chairman’s office.
Mr Tay Khiam Back, Chairman, Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association said that at present it does not look like prices will be affected as there has not been much change to the supply. He added, however, that it might be too early to tell for sure.