Reasons for rising fish prices in Singapore and Malaysia

Rosidirap started fishing business 20 years ago. He still enjoys working for a living, but there are many differences between then and now.

In the past, he used to catch more than 20 tons of fish in three days while fishing in the waters off the coast of Johor, but now he catches that amount after less than five to six days.

“There are fewer fish now. It’s getting harder to catch fish nearby, so we go to Kurantan, We have to go around to Terengganu and other places,” said Captain Rossidi of a boat owned by GM Seafood, a seafood wholesaler.

As it takes more effort to catch the same amount of fish, costs also rise. This is one of the reasons why fish prices are rising in Malaysia and Singapore.

In Malaysia, fish prices have risen by 10 to 30 percent. In Singapore, fish prices have risen by 20 percent or more this year.

The raw fish sold at Singapore’s Tekka market, according to Lee Li Houk, said the price of mackerel rose to S$20 to S$25 per kilogram in September, compared to S$15 to S$20 per kilogram two months ago.

Longer days at sea mean more diesel costs for fishing boats. Also, the price of diesel is 4.15 Malaysian ringgit (Singapore dollar 1.24) per liter, up from 3.70 ringgit per liter previously, said GM Seafood director Gary Ko.

He has an average weekly diesel cost of S$320,000 for more than 40 fishing vessels, which is 12 per cent higher than a year ago. In addition, as fishermen spend longer days at sea, their daily wages have also increased.

As Gary Co’s production costs rose 25 to 30 percent, profits fell 30 percent, and the company said it was selling fish at a 15 percent markup.

Singapore consumed 133,400 tonnes of seafood last year, producing just eight percent of that amount. Malaysia was Singapore’s largest source of seafood last year, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam for seafood, according to statistics released by the Singapore Food Agency.

In Malaysia, large quantities of fish were caught, less than a quarter were farmed, and bad weather conditions prevented fishermen from going out to sea, he said.

Climate change and human-caused global warming may cause more thunderstorms, said Malaysian meteorologist Toi Ying Ying.

Temperatures in Malaysia have risen by 0.02 degrees centigrade each year since 1981. As a result, it is said to cause more moisture, causing severe thunderstorms and heavy rains.

More carbon dioxide in the oceans further increases acidity. Warmer and more acidic temperatures are affecting marine life. For example, higher temperatures are encouraging the growth of marine bacteria and fungi that can kill some fish, Tan said.

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