Weather & Seafood

When we purchase fresh seafood, either for home use or for a food establishment, we often are shocked when we see or hear the price.  People wonder how come it costs so much or notice that the price changed rather quickly and or frequently.

Most likely, weather is the culprit.  Although politics (D.E.C. regulations and government sanctions over importing and exporting) has a role to play, price changes are most often weather related…Specifically, wind, rain and ice.  It should be noted that these factors affect farmed fish to a lesser degree but still may have an impact on price.

  • High winds make it extremely difficult to fish, so as a result, there is less seafood caught.  The demand stays high but the supply is down…so the pricing fluctuates.
  • Rain will often shut down certain fisheries due to high amounts of runoff.  This runoff can hold high amounts of fertilizer and a range of other foreign matter that needs time to be purged before the seafood can be caught.  It can take a few days for nature to do a self cleaning cycle so until then, production stays low but the demand stays the same…and pricing fluctuates.
  • Heavy ice formations can block ships from getting to fishing grounds and the extreme cold temperatures can cause some clams and shellfish to burrow deeper into the ocean floor making it harder to dig them up…pricing fluctuates.
  • Full moon phases can also affect seafood availability.  Generally speaking, it mostly affects pelagic fish or fish that swim in offshore open waters.  Some examples of pelagic fish are Sardines, Swordfish, Sharks and Tuna.
  • Full moons pulling stronger on tides create at least a couple of factors in fishing.  For one, there’s more water shifting things around which spreads the natural food supply for these larger open water fish species.  So they are not in concentrated areas and tend to be more distributed as per the smaller fish they are hunting.
  • It also becomes harder to catch these fish because they are better fed having chased down the various species that were  moved about by the tides, so they aren’t as eager to take the fisherman’s bait.  Basically the opposite of when their food supplies are harder to find and they are hungry.  Furthermore, these are fish caught with a hook and line and are swimming         ever deeper due to the added light source that a full moon provides, helping them to see better and hunt in deeper waters. This makes it even harder for them to be caught by hook and line due to the deep depths and associated complications…pricing fluctuates.

Weather systems can cause the price of a particular fish to possibly double overnight.  It is these same weather systems that make our ocean as diverse as it is.  When looking at seafood fluctuations in price and availability, you need to accept the ebb and flow and know that these are wild commodities that we are dealing with.  Seafood is one of Earth’s last wild caught commodities.