Horseshoe crab business still a hit despite pandemic

Delicious treat: Mohd Khairul holding up horseshoe crabs from one of the family-owned ponds in Sedili Kechil. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

KOTA TINGGI: The Covid-19 pandemic did not slow down the business of a three-generation horseshoe crab (belangkas) trader in Sedili Kechil here.

Manager and third generation owner of the family business, Mohd Khairul Adham Ahmad, 24, said their business recovered to normalcy just a few months after the movement control order was implemented.

“The business suffered during the first three months of the MCO due to the closure of the border, especially with Thailand, as a majority of our sales is from that country.

“However, when we were allowed to cross the border for business purposes in June, things went back to normal pretty quickly, ” he said, adding that they were able to sell an average of 3,000 horseshoe crabs a month, with about 95% to Thailand.

“The local demand for horseshoes crab is low even before the pandemic. We were only able to sell about 100 to 200 crabs a month to local buyers.

“Most of our local customers are restaurant owners, and only a few would come here to buy for their own consumption, ” he said, adding that the highest number of horseshoe crabs sold in a month is 9,000.

Mohd Khairul said they get the horseshoe crabs from local fisherman from Kota Tinggi, mostly from the Sedili Kechil area.

“At the moment, there are about 30 fishermen supplying horseshoe crabs to us.

“We have about 10 ponds here to store the crab. People could also come here to buy horseshoe crabs directly from us, ” he said.

In order to preserve and ensure the continuous supply of the sea creature, the family had also initiated a breeding centre here.

“We decided to come out with the programme about eight years ago, where we breed the horseshoe crab and release it back into the sea a few years later.

“This is to protect the species and ensure its continued existence, ” he said, adding that it would take at least 12 years for the horseshoe crab to grow large enough for consumption.

Mohd Khairul added that they release thousands of horseshoe crabs once every two years.

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