Taninthayi’s fishery industry: Soaring costs and plummeting prices threaten operations and jobs

Falling seafood prices, rising fuel costs, and unstable currency rates are severely impacting Taninthayi Region’s fishery exports to Thailand, potentially bringing the industry to a standstill, according to industry insiders.
An offshore trawler usually costs 13 million baht (around K120 million) per trip. Despite a potential catch worth 18 million baht (K170 million), traders often face losses due to additional operational expenses.
A merchant from Myeik says, “Fleets of 10 to 20 trawlers remain docked. Small-scale fishermen have stopped completely. The impact is profound on all offshore boats. I heard medium-sized iron-hauled boats are faring relatively better in Rakhine waters. But plummeting prices, soaring operational expenses, and unfavourable currency rates have forced us in Taninthayi Region to halt operations.”
A barrel of fuel oil costs over K660,000, while a container of fish barely fetches K65,000. “Our fishing boats came back. We just decided to dock them since the market is no longer favourable. The current situation hurts all offshore boats, especially large-scale ones because they need more men to operate. Since they use surface-and midwater-fishing methods, they struggle to catch fish. Thai buyers no longer accept their fish since there’s a surplus. The exchange rate makes the situation worse, too,” complains another offshore fishing business owner.
Traders are required to exchange 50 per cent of the earnings from fishery exports at the designated currency rate and spend the remaining 50 per cent within a month. Additionally, Thai buyers are driving down seafood prices, worsening the situation.
An official at the Myeik District Squid Entrepreneurs Association said, “It affects squid traders, too. At the beginning of the season last year, a salver of squids earned K350,000. But the market opened to K200,000 this year and has fallen as low as K150,000. We decided to stop operating once the boats return. The fishermen are going to lose their jobs. Sea exports aren’t advantageous. Land transport costs from K600,000 to K900,000 additionally. A kilogramme of parquet fish barely makes K500 now. We can’t go on like this.”
Taninthayi Region is home to 1,500 offshore fishing boats, and local people are worried that losses in the fishery industry might spread to other sectors.— Myint Oo (Myeik)/NT

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