Elderly couple eke out a living with mud crabs

Muniama and Mariappan with the day’s catch of mudcrabs at the mangrove forest near Kuala Jalan Baharu in Balik Pulau, Penang.

p>BALIK PULAU, Malaysia - It is a familiar sight to spot an elderly couple at the mangrove swamp here.

For more than 50 years, D. Mariappan, 72, and his wife M. Muniama, 64, who live in Kuala Jalan Baharu, have been going to the mangrove swamp daily to catch mud crabs, which have been their sole source of income.

Mariappan said they would have a poor catch when it rained.

"Also, over the years the crab population has been greatly reduced due to pollution.

"We used to catch over 10kg of crabs daily in the past but now we only catch an average of 3kg a day.

"Depending on the size, the crabs can be sold from RM12 (S$4.70) to RM15 per kg while female crabs can fetch up to RM25 per kg," he said.

The couple has two sons and three daughters, aged between 18 and 40, who have jobs of their own.

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