Fishermen in Bagan Ajam in northern Butterworth are experiencing tough times as their catch has dwindled in recent years.
As a result, Bagan Ajam Fishermen unit head Mazlan Abdul claims the fishemen’s incomes have dropped substantially. He says their usually catchment area across the channel has been affected by reclamation work.
By the time the fishermen divide the day’s takings among their boat-hands and deduct fuel cost there is little extra for them to take home – unlike in the past, when they used to earn a comfortable income.
“We used to be able to catch bawal tambak (Chinese silver pomfret) which would fetch us a good price and was much in demand by Chinese restaurants.” But such fish is no longer easy to come by, he says.
What about the high fish prices at the local market?
Mazlan and his colleague lament that middlemen make more out of this arrangement. For instance, ikan temenung (Indian mackerel) in the market sells for RM18/kg, but the fishermen only receive a fraction of the price from the middlemen.
At present, a fishermen’s market/bazaar held nearby enables the fishermen to get a better price for their fish. But it is held only once a month.
The lower income for the fishermen means they are forced to look for other sources of income to supplement their earnings and cope with the higher cost of living – but such alternative sources are not easy to find.
Frustrated by the situation, some of the fishermen from Bagan Ajam were among the hundreds who participated in a recent 150-boat flotilla protest against land reclamation off the coast of Tanjung Tokong.