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Wednesday, 15 November 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

Fish farmers take a hit, but bigger catches for anglers

BUTTERWORTH: The 15-hour storm which caused floods in many areas in Penang also brought massive losses to fish farmers when hundreds of their cages became damaged.

Fish farmer Ooi Hye Hin, 54, said strong waves pounded his 150-cage farm in Teluk Bahang and caused about 40% of the fish to escape, adding that about 10% of his cages and nets were damaged.

South Seberang Prai Eco-Tourism Development Association secretary Kuan Hin Yeap said about 20 fish farmers in Tambun and Sungai Udang told him 90% of their cages were damaged in the storm.

“The farmers operate about 500 cages there, each with about RM15,000 worth of fish, besides equipment.”

At the Seberang Jaya market, fishmonger Mohd Jamil Mat Ziad, 31, said his supply of mackerel, bream and torpedo scad had dropped by 30% as fishermen were not going out due to rough seas and gloomy weather.

“Due to the shortage, prices have increased but my profit has dropped as I have to maintain the price for my customers,” he said when met yesterday.

Another fishmonger, Lee Ah Hwa, 63, said the supply from fish farms and fishermen in Penang had been reduced due to the storm on Nov 5, although the fish supply from Perak was not affected.

“My customers are left with fewer choices these days,” he said.

Fisherman Maziduddin Musa, 54, from Sungai Udang, Nibong Tebal, said his catch had been drastically reduced and he had no explanation for it.

“My daily catch has fallen by almost half and I’m forced to slightly increase the price. I cannot double the price, so I earn less now,” he said.

Penang Inshore Fisherman Wel­fare Association president Ilias Shafie said so far, he had not received any reports of fishermen getting reduced catches as they were still going out to sea as usual.

“It is a common practice for some fishermen to claim that catches were reduced in hopes of jacking up the price,” he said.

However, the damage to fish farms is a boon to anglers.

Penang Fisheries Department officer Mohd Syahrulnizam Ismail said anglers and those who go out to sea now would probably get more siakap, grouper and snapper which escaped from the farms.

A fisherman who wanted to be known only as Ban said his recent trips to bring anglers out to sea had yielded fairly good catches.

“Normally, we get only a small haul but after the storm, anglers have been getting bigger fishes like the ones served in local restaurants.

“Although there’s no way we can ascertain where the fish came from, the anglers are definitely getting better catches,” he said.