Despite the 13sen reduction in diesel and petrol prices effective Tuesday, many fishermen in Miri said they are hopeful that government would reduced the price further.

They said they still incur higher operating cost especially in term of wages, boat materials and maintenance.

Miri Fishery Association (PPM) chairman Tan Teck Huat said although they were grateful for the concern shown by the government, but at price of RM1.30 per liter, diesel and petrol are still very expensive.

“We want the government to go back to the old price of RM1 a liter or at least reduce it further to RM1.20 because RM1.30 a liter is still expensive for us,” he told the Borneo Post yesterday.

Tan also suggested that government should have reduced the price further in accordance with the drop in oil prices in global market.

“If the government can reduce the subsidized price of petrol for consumers from RM2.70 to RM1.90, I’m confident that they have no problem in reducing it to RM1 per liter for fishermen,” he said.

Reiterating Tan sentiment, Sarawak Fishing Vessel Association, Miri branch chairman Seruji Tuna said the reduced prices of subsidized petrol and diesel for fishermen would not have any impact on them as many were still operating at loss.

He said fishermen in average were making RM2,000 before deducting wages and maintenance cost. “There’s not much left after deducting crew wages and maintenance costs,” Seruji stressed.

Apart from the high fuel cost, fishermen also facing dwindling catches as result of foreign trawlers activities in Malaysian waters according to Seruji.

“At least at the old price of RM1 a liter for subsidized petrol and diesel, we can still make a little profit..

“The sudden increase in fuel price and the slow reduction in prices are making our life difficult,” he said.

However, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed has different opinions.

As reported by Bernama on Dec 13, he said the reduction in price of subsidized diesel and petrol would mean savings in fuel cost of RM260-RM4,160 monthly depending on the fishing zone and vessel size.

Mustapa said traditional net vessels operating in Zone A (up to 5 nautical miles) will save RM260 monthly, dragnet vessels in Zone B (5-12 nautical miles) will save RM2,600 monthly.

“Dragnet vessels in Zone C (12-30 nautical miles) will save RM3,120 monthly and dragnet vessels in Zone C2 (over 30 nautical miles) will save RM4,160 monthly.”

Mustapa said the government had on Nov 3 increased the subsidizer diesel and petrol quota from 106 million liter monthly to 126 million liter to accommodate the issuance of 15,900 new fishing vessel licenses by the Fisheries Department.

“Following requests from dragnet vessel operators, the government also approved additional quota of 4,000 liters monthly to vessels fishing in Zone C and C2.”

Mustapa said the price reduction and additional diesel and petrol quota should give fishermen higher returns due to the costs saved.