DEMAND EXCEEDS SUPPLY: Imports from Indonesia drop because of poor catch
MUAR: THE shortage of fish and escalating operating costs are reducing fish imports from Sumatra, Indonesia, to Johor.
Tan Ah Hong, 44, who is one of the five importers in Johor, said local traders used to be able to obtain 3,500 boxes of fish a month compared to the current 800 to 1,000 boxes.
"Previously Indonesian barter traders could supply fish for 23 days each month, compared to only about 10 days now.
"The drop in supply from Sumatra had also affected fish distribution to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other markets, forcing the prices to soar," he said when met here yesterday.
The prices of fish have also gone up by almost 50 per cent.
"Fish merchants in Sumatra said that they could not absorb the rising operating costs, including high transport charges, due to poor catch," Tan added.
"When the catch was good, Sumatran fish merchants could supply 180 to 250 boxes a day, at an estimated RM1,000 per box, for six days a week to Johor fish traders by using special delivery boats.
"To cut costs, they now send fish via boats transporting cargoes and vegetables to Port Klang."
To seek a solution to their problems, Tan said that local fish traders held a meeting in Johor Baru recently.
Meanwhile, Parit Jawa wet market fish auctioneer Lim Ah Hong, 51, said fish from Sumatra were quickly snapped up by local fish traders who had to fulfil orders from restaurants, food courts and hawkers.
"The buyers are not worried about the prices," he said. "They just seize the fish without haggling for the prices because if they wait, someone else will beat them to it."
Lim added that the shortage was made worse because local fishermen were not going out to sea due to the rough weather.
Muar-Batu Pahat Fishermen's Association president Ser Boon Huat said consumers will have to brace themselves for more expensive fish if the shortage continues.
He urged the government to look into the problem immediately.