BUKIT GANTANG: A total of 25,000 foreign workers, especially from Thailand, are needed to fill vacancies on deep-sea fishing vessels in efforts to stabilise fish supply, particularly during the festive season.

Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) chairman Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal said there are 1,000 deep-sea fishing vessels in Peninsular Malaysia and each vessel requires at least 25 workers.

“From my survey in Terengganu recently, many deep-sea fishing vessel operators complained that they are unable to operate due to the unavailability of workers from Thailand, thus driving fish prices up and affecting the current fish supply

He said this at a press conference after the Bukit Gantang Children’s Account Book presentation ceremony and P059 Bursary for Matriculation Students, Colleges and Institutions of Higher Learning, here, today.

Syed Abu Hussin said LKIM had made a formal application to the Immigration Department for the entry of Thai foreign workers to work on deep-sea fishing vessels, but has not received any decision on it yet.

“I hope the Immigration Department will open an easier avenue and follow the rules to solve this problem,“ he said.

According to him, the government currently imposes a fee of RM10,000 to bring in a foreign worker and this (amount) is a burden to owners of deep-sea fishing vessels.

Meanwhile, when asked about fish supplies during the Chinese New Year festival, Syed Abu Hussin said fresh fish supply was expected to decrease but it would be met with the supply of frozen fish (Q-fish).

However, he said, fish landings will happen despite reduced fish supply and increased fish prices during the festive period.

He said his team had also imported 20 per cent of fish from Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh to meet demand.

Meanwhile, Syed Abu Hussin said the Bukit Gantang Children’s Fund was established in 2019 with the aim of saving for the children’s future as well as encouraging parents to save.

“Every child born from 2019 to this year is given RM100, and RM100 is added every year (to it) provided the savings are not withdrawn (from the account),“ he added. — Bernama