Aquaculture sector in Penang in troubled waters

Fresh stock: Tonnes of freshly harvested barramundi in Sungai Udang, Penang, being packed in ice for export.

NIBONG TEBAL: The aquaculture sector in Penang, which rakes in RM1.67bil a year in revenue, is nosediving as orders from China and Singapore shrink tremendously in the wake of the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak.

Penang Fish Farmers Association deputy chairman Chew Thong Tai said the export of fish from Penang has shrunk by 60% in the last two months.

“If we had been entirely dependent on the China market, it would have been all over for Penang’s aquaculture industry.

“The Hong Kong freighters that come almost daily to buy live groupers have stopped coming.

“We supply China’s tourism sector for their restaurants and hotels. There are hardly any orders now,” he said.Chew said on average, he would export about 10 tonnes a day, but now he only had orders for three to four tonnes a day.

“It is not just the overseas market. We supply restaurants and hotels in Melaka and Johor, too, and orders from there are also dropping because Singaporeans have cut back on their trips,” he said.

The one good thing is that as orders slow down, the fishes can remain in the floating farm cages or dugout ponds with minimal feeding, but Chew said if the drastic drop in demand continues in the next few months, many fish farmers may have to fold.

Aquaculturist K. N. Wong said he did not have a single order for golden pomfrets and red snappers from Singapore in the last two weeks.

“These two fishes are essential for hotels and restaurants. This only means that tourism in Singapore is badly hit.

“We were lucky because our December and January sales had been good. So we can cope with losses this month,” he said.

Penang’s aquaculture industry is rivalled only by Sabah, with over 30,000 tonnes of fish farmed each year.

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aquaculture sector , Penang , Covid-19


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