Malaysia facing shortage of foreign fishers

Fishermen bringing in a catch in Malaysia.

COVID-19 related travel restrictions have prevented foreign workers from entering Malaysia, resulting in a labor shortage in the country’s fisheries sector.

Malaysia began a two-week lockdown, or movement control order, from 1 June to contain a surge of the coronavirus infections across the country. As a result, it has been difficult for fishing companies in Malaysia to bring in crew members from other countries, The Star reported 8 June.

Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) Chairman Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal said his agency is willing to help local recruiters pass foreign workers through Malaysia’s land borders.

“LKIM has received approval from the Immigration Department to bring in crew members from Thailand and Vietnam to work in deep-sea [fisheries],” he said.

Fish landings in Malaysia have declined by 10 percent during the current lockdown as a result of the shortage of foreign crews, The Star reported. But Fasal said the shortage can be covered by local fishermen and that fish supply is sufficient for domestic consumption.

“LKIM also has stocks of frozen fish kept by companies that can help cover the shortage of fish supply in the market,” he said at a press briefing.

Malaysia reported 5,566 new cases of COVID-19 on 8 June, bringing the country’s total to 541,319. More than 3,500 Malaysians have died from COVID-19. In Thailand and Vietnam, where Malaysia wants to hire workers for its fisheries sector, the situation is also worsening.

Thailand had 2,662 new cases as of 8 June, with a total of 182,548 people infected and nearly 1,300 mortalities from COVID-19, according to The Nation. Vietnam had more than 9,000 cases with 55 deaths as of 8 June, government data showed.

Photo courtesy of OlegD/Shutterstock


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