The production if Ikan Bilis or anchovies begin with 25m trawlers combing the sea around Langkawi with their sonar systems to locate the shoals. As soon a shoal is detected, the trawler lays its net around the shoal, trapping it in a ‘column of net’. This is than hauled onto the deck, where thousands of small fish are briefly boiled in a saltwater solution and stored on the upper deck.
It sometimes takes several days before the trawlers return to their base to unload their catch. Once the catch is landed, every fish is dried, sorted manually according to its size, packed in big cartons and shipped to Japan, Europe etc. where it is loved as an appetizer. The whole process and the various steps can be observed in Bukit Malut, where mainly female immigrants from Thailand and Myanmar earn a living from Ikan Bilis.
The largest industries on the island, besides tourism related facilities are the cement factory to the North and the marble factory to the East near Kuah, while fish farms are gaining popularity as an alternative economic activity.