PETALING JAYA: About RM10 million worth of frozen and chilled fish has been held back in Port Klang, a consequence of a disrupted supply chain.
As a result, importers are spending more on storage and, by extension, prices of seafood has risen, according to dealers.
The need to address the situation cannot be over-emphasised, given that Malaysians are among the world’s largest consumers of fish.
Data from the Seafood Trade Intelligence portal shows that the per capita consumption of seafood in Malaysia is about 56kg, more than double the world average.
National Fishermen’s Association (Nekmat) general manager Azrin Shah Ismail said there is an urgent need to ease movement restrictions to enable industry players to move their goods to wholesalers and retailers across state lines.
The enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) on March 18 put a limit on travel across state borders, severely disrupting the transport of goods from one state to another.
Some of the restrictions have been lifted under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) that has replaced the MCO, but disruptions in the supply chain remain.
Azrin Shah said Nekmat has already appealed to the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry as well as International Trade and Industry ministries to hasten the clearance and movement of goods at the ports.
“Further delays will only incur higher storage costs,” he said.
It costs importers RM100 a day for every ton of seafood stored at the port warehouses.
Azrin Shah said current supply is still adequate but there has already been a surge in the prices of seafood at the markets.
Checks by theSun showed that mackerel is now selling at RM40 per kilo at supermarkets in the Klang Valley, up from RM20 previously.
Hawkers, who use seafood in a lot of the dishes they serve, are also feeling the pinch.
Malaysian Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Associations president Datuk Seri Rosli Sulaiman said hawkers now spend an average of RM120 a week on seafood. It used to be only RM50 a week.
Rosli wants to see price control for such items.
“The price increases should not be at our expense,” he said.
To make matters worse, he said, supply for about 30,000 petty traders in the Klang Valley has also been disrupted.
He said this has led to price increases to the point where some consumers can no longer afford to buy some basic necessities.
Azrin Shah also puts the blame on a gap in manpower.
“When the MCO came into effect two months ago, we lost all our migrant workers, who make up more than 80% of our workforce,” he said, adding that this has disrupted operations at wholesale markets.”
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RM10m kink in supply chain