Consumers can expect a hike in fish prices soon, especially during the Chinese New Year period, with the new ban from Malaysia on some fish and shrimp.
Malaysia announced it will be prohibiting the export of four species of wild-caught fish - the kembung (mackerel), selar (trevally), pelaling (Indian mackerel), bawal (pomfret) - and shrimp from Jan 1 to Feb 28 next year, reported Bernama.
This is to meet the shortage in the market during the monsoon and festive seasons, said Malaysia's Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub on Monday.
However, Mr Lee Boon Cheow, president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said that the ban will not hit Singapore hard.
He said: "Every few years, there will be a shortage on some seafood due to many factors such as weather, and this is not new.
"Singaporeans are adaptable, and Malaysia makes up about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of our fish imports.
"At most, the price will increase by 10 per cent to 15 per cent."
Mr Lee added that Singapore also imports the four species from other countries such as Indonesia, the main source of Singapore's fish imports.
Shrimp is also sourced from other countries, and more fisheries in Singapore have started to farm shrimp in recent years, he added.
One of these is Apollo Aquaculture Group, which has about 5 tonnes to 6 tonnes of shrimp in stock for the Chinese New Year period.
Mr Eric Ng, the chief executive officer of Apollo Aquaculture Group, told The New Paper that the ban on shrimp had caught him by surprise.
"Malaysia has huge quantities of shrimp and they don't usually have bans on it," he said.
Shrimp at Apollo Aquaculture Group are currently going at $28 a kg, and the price will most likely increase to $35 a kg if there is overwhelming demand, said Mr Ng.
He added: "If you want fresh fish, then it will definitely be more expensive.
"But we also import frozen fish of these species from Indonesia."
Some businesses will definitely be affected by the ban, said Mr Badrol Hisam, 52, managing director of Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak.
He said the shop goes through 20kg to 30kg worth of selar a day, and he uses only fresh selar.
Mr Badrol said: "We can't change the fish because it goes well with nasi lemak... if we can't absorb the cost, we will have to double the price of the fish.
"The price of the fish had already risen to $5.50 a kg before the ban, but we will try to absorb the cost as much as possible to keep customers happy."
Mr Leong Siew Kuai, 86, who usually buys pomfret during Chinese New Year, said: "Chinese New Year means a lot to my family so I want to stick with tradition.
"I don't mind paying more as long as the fish is good in quality." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JASMINE LIM
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.