Caught in the net The Malaysian seafood industry waits in vain


The Malaysian seafood industry is widely recognised as world-class, with exports valued at RM2.5bil in 2007 – fairly healthy earnings considering that the Malaysian automotive industry posted export earnings of RM4bil for the same period. Many of the seafood industry’s leading players are based in Penang, and these include the parent companies of well-known brands that can be found in supermarket chains throughout Malaysia and the world.
Up till May 2008 the industry was booming and looked set to achieve another record year of exports driven by high demand from the European Union – the single largest destination for Malaysian seafood products. However, the situation changed suddenly when Malaysian authorities decided on a self-imposed ban on exports to the EU rather than risk a potential ban by European authorities. Twenty months later, the ban is still in place, aff ecting most Malaysian seafood exporting companies, and leaving the industry a shadow of its former self. The Penang Economic Monthly looks at what went wrong.

CH’NG CHIN HOOI, chairman of the Malaysian Frozen Food Processors Association (MFFPA) looked tired during the interview and it was no surprise. “I’ve been shutt ling between Kuala Lumpur and Penang at least 27 times in the last 12 months,” he revealed. Ch’ng has been a man on a mission ever since the self-imposed ban on Malaysian seafood exports came into place. The Penang-based association has been lobbying hard for government intervention and assistance to get the industry back on its feet.

The story began with a random inspection by EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) officials in April 2008.

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