BUKIT MERTAJAM: The current shortage of fish and consequent rise in prices right after a chicken supply crisis could have been averted with proper planning, says a former head of the fisheries development authority (LKIM).
Faiz Fadzil said LKIM’s recent excuse of non-functioning cold rooms at major fish landing ports in the country was unacceptable as this was something that could have been easily avoided.
LKIM reportedly said these cold rooms were unavailable due to “bureaucratic problems”.
Faiz, LKIM’s immediate past chairman, said such an explanation was unbecoming of the organisation as the government was fully aware that the Hari Raya season would push demand higher.
“They failed to anticipate the demand during the festive season. Fish stocks should have been high and their prices could have been more stable.
“Now, right after the chicken supply crisis, Malaysians are forced to leave out another key protein from their diet,” the Amanah man told reporters at an event here today.
Faiz, who is also Permatang Pasir assemblyman, said LKIM should have been on the ball much earlier to ensure all supply chain-related matters, such as cold rooms, were ready ahead of time.
He added that cold rooms were necessary so that fisherfolk could ensure their catch was fresh and fish stocks could be kept frozen for future demand.
“To blame government bureaucracy shows the agency’s weakness in performing its most basic role.
“There must be political will and commitment to ensure this situation does not recur,” the Penang assemblyman said.
Earlier, LKIM chairman Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal said the lack of functioning cold rooms had contributed to an increase in fish prices.
According to Utusan, the Umno MP said some cold rooms that could store up to 1,000 tonnes of fish could not be used. He said it may take two to three months to resolve the fish supply issue.
Describing the situation as “saddening”, Syed Abu Hussin said his repeated instructions to have these cold rooms ready were hampered by “government bureaucracy”.
Over the past week, fish prices have shot up 20-40%, two separate reports have shown. Fish supply was reported to be down by half.
Fish landing at significant ports in the northern part of the peninsula was down by 70% from a million tonnes to about 300,000 tonnes. This was blamed on uncertain weather over the past two months.
Meanwhile, chicken prices have recently soared close to RM12 per kg, way above the ceiling price of RM8.90 a kg. Fish prices, in general, have risen by RM6 per kg for popular varieties.