Cockle price spikes as supply drops 85%

02 Jul 2019 / 15:09 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The price of cockles has risen from RM2 or RM3 per kg two years ago to about RM15 now as yield of the seafood has dropped by 85% in five years.

The sharp drop has been attributed to several factors, including pollution caused by seepage from sewerage treatment facilities and climate change, said Prof Datuk Dr Aileen S.H. Tan, who is director of the Centre For Marine and Coastal Studies in Universiti Sains Malaysia.

She said rubbish, chemical discharge and over-harvesting have decimated the natural supply of cockles.

“We have fishermen catching tiny cockle spats ... babies that are not allowed to grow to adult size because demand continues to grow,“ Tan told theSun.

It was reported that about 16,000 tonnes was harvested in 2015 but within a year, it dropped to 9,500 tonnes.

Tan said aquaculture cannot flourish due to the change in water quality and the overall contamination at mudflats where cockles grow.

She called for a concerted effort to protect cockle spats to enable the numbers to recover.

Meanwhile, KL Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Datuk Yow Boon Choon said hawkers have no choice but to raise prices to cover the higher cost of cockles.

A plate of char koay teow now costs about RM7, up from RM4 to RM5 two or three years ago. Customers have to pay an additional RM1 if they want extra cockles.

Yow also blamed pollution for the depletion in the supply of cockles.

“The natural balance of their habitat has been compromised. The water is contaminated by acid or chemicals,” he said, adding that infrastructure development had also led to changes in the flow of tides, and that has also affected cockle habitats.

Malaysian Border Security Agency commander in Kedah, Abdul Latif Abdul Rahman, dismissed claims that there has been a surge in the smuggling of cockles out of Malaysia.

“There have only been one or two cases each year in the past few years, and each time, we foiled those attempts,” he said.

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