Choppy waters keep fishermen away

Azli (right) and fisherman Amirul Azizi selling their catch at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen’s Market.

PASIR GUDANG: The monsoon season is affecting the catch of fishermen in the southernmost parts of Johor and the situation is likely to last until March next year.

Johor South Fishermen Association chairman Azli Mohd Aziz said the fishermen continued to go out to sea despite the bad weather as it was the source of their livelihood.

“Our catch is down by between 20% and 30% due to the choppy waters, ’’ he said when met at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fisherman Market near here.

Azli said based on the weather patterns and sea conditions, high tide was from 10am to noon.

“The fishermen avoid going out to sea during that period, ” he said.

He said the South China Sea conditions were rougher compared with the waters along the Straits of Malacca during the north-east monsoon.

“Our coastal fishermen are lucky as they are still able to go out to sea regularly despite the bad weather now while those in Mersing have to stay home, ’’ added Azli.

However, he said the association would advise its members not to risk their life during the current poor weather and avoid going out to fish if the situation was not permissible.

On the fishing method in rough sea water conditions and strong currents, Azli said the fishermen would use the drift net which was partially submerged.

He said among the fishes caught using the method included pomfret, mackerel, ikan tamban (sardines) and wolf herring (ikan parang), adding that the net could drift onto the shipping routes along the straits and get damaged by passing vessels.

Azli said when the water was calmer, they used pukat tagan (static trawl) and most of the catch were jenahak (golden snapper) grouper, red snapper, seabass, stingray and long head grunter (ikan tebal pipi).

He said the association which runs the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen’s Market decided to maintain the prices of fishes despite less catch due to the bad weather.

“We are able to maintain the prices as our fishermen sell their catch directly at the market instead of going through middlemen, ’’ said Azli.

He said the fish and other seafood sold at the market are supplied by about 40 coastal fishermen and 60 Orang Asli fishermen.

Azli said feedback from customers showed the prices of the fishes and seafood sold at the market was cheaper compared with most wet markets in Pasir Gudang and Johor Baru.

He said for instance, jenahak was sold at between RM32 and RM34 per kg, red snapper at RM34 to RM36, black pomfret at between RM26 and RM27 while white pomfret was RM40 per kg.

“Even during Chinese New Year, we sold our prawns at RM60 per kg compared with RM100 at other wet markets, ’’ said Azli.

There are about 2,500 coastal fishermen in south Johor and their fishing areas are within the 10 nautical miles covering Tanjung Piai, Iskandar Puteri, Pulai, Johor Baru, Tebrau and Pasir Gudang.

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