Among seafood enthusiasts, Chilean sea bass is one of the best types of fish to eat.
The Chilean sea bass is best known for its natural buttery flavor and its tender texture.
Some claim it’s similar to eating cod.
Whether you’re a fan of Chilean sea bass or want to try it for the first time, you may feel some surprise at seeing its price.
You may wonder what it is about Chilean sea bass that makes it so expensive.
Why Is Chilean Sea Bass So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of Chilean sea bass is between $7 and $10 per pound with some restaurants charging $35 or more for a sea bass meal.
Chilean sea bass is expensive due to the costs associated with fishing, low sea bass populations, and the costs associated with serving it in restaurants.
Let’s look at these factors and some others in more detail.
1. Long Maturation Period
One of the problems with Chilean sea bass is that they take a long time to grow.
It takes between six and seven years for Chilean sea bass to reach maturity.
This impacts the price of sea bass in a few ways.
For one, fishing regulations try to keep fishers from catching immature sea bass.
The goal is to ensure that the younger sea bass have a chance to breed before they’re taken from the ocean.
The younger sea bass are also less desirable since they’re not as big and don’t have as much meat on them.
This impacts the price of sea bass because it means fishermen have to wait six to seven years for populations to grow.
While there are always fish at the appropriate age to fish, there aren’t as many as there could be.
Since it takes Chilean sea bass so long to grow, the number of available bass to fish isn’t that high.
That means there’s always a bit of a shortage.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because it takes a long time to mature which impacts its supply.
2. Overfished Populations
Another big problem behind the increased price of sea bass is overfishing.
Chilean sea bass is expensive.
Fishermen looking to cash in on the market have flocked to the shores to try their hand at catching sea bass.
That also includes illegal fishermen.
This has led to a problem with overfishing which essentially means that fishermen are catching more sea bass than the population can keep up with.
That falls back to the sea bass’s long maturation period.
They’re unable to mate and increase their population fast enough to keep up with the number of fish taken out of the ocean by fishermen.
Since overfishing is a problem that Chilean sea bass face, there are fewer fish in the ocean.
That impacts the supply of sea bass which, in turn, impacts the price of sea bass.
With fewer bass available to fish and sell, the supply of bass is unable to meet demand.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because overfishing is reducing its population.
3. Expensive Fishing Method
The type of fishing that fishermen have to do to catch sea bass is also expensive.
Chilean sea bass roam mostly across the ocean floor.
As they mature, they move deeper into the ocean.
In order to catch them, fishermen have to use longlines.
The problem with using longlines is by-catch.
By-catch essentially refers to the collection or capture of other creatures besides the target creature.
Longline fishing can sometimes end up killing seabirds who end up diving for the fish caught in the nets.
A series of other fish can also end up in the net.
As a result, the fishermen might accidentally be reducing the populations of other species of fish, too.
While some will take the time to sort their fish and return those that don’t belong, others don’t.
The process of sorting or innovating their longline fishing strategies to reduce by-catch can be more expensive.
Since they’re taking on higher costs to be more eco-friendly, they’re going to sell their sea bass at higher prices.
Another problem that impacts longline fishing is predation by other species.
Dolphins, for example, will follow a boat and start stealing sea bass caught in the nets.
The fishermen end up losing a portion of their catches.
Since it impacts their yield, they have to sell at higher prices to make up for those losses.
Equipment and labor costs also factor into the price.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because the method of fishing sea bass is costly.
4. Long-Distance Fishing
Although the Chilean sea bass’s name might suggest that it comes strictly from Chile, that isn’t the case.
A lot of Chilean sea bass is actually caught around Antarctica and in the Arctic waters.
It’s a species that prefers cold water.
This makes Chilean sea bass expensive because it means fisheries have to travel long distances to fish for Chilean sea bass.
Not too many people live in Antarctica.
Those who do tend to be part of research teams or ecologists.
As such, fisheries have to send their fishing vessels up north.
That can be quite an expensive venture.
For one, they need to ensure that their ships can handle the water.
They need to be in decent shape.
Otherwise, if a boat springs a leak, it can doom the crew and haul.
Secondly, they need to ensure that their crew has plenty to eat and survive.
The long trek means they need to invest in plenty stores of food.
Finally, there are other expenses like fuel, medical supplies, and equipment costs that add to the overall cost.
To cover all those costs, fisheries have to sell their bass at high prices.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because the costs associated with fishing across a large distance are high.
5. Sustainable Fishing Sources
Because Chilean sea bass is at risk of overfishing, many governments have stepped in to impose fishing regulations.
They want to help protect sea bass populations to ensure that people can continue to enjoy the dish for the next several years.
Sustainable fishing, however, tends to yield more expensive fish.
That’s because fisheries are only able to catch so many sea bass each year.
Once they reach their quota for the season, they’re unable to catch anymore.
This impacts the price of Chilean sea bass because it means there’s likely always going to be a shortage compared to demand.
Fisheries are unable to catch as many as they need to demand because it would likely cause the Chilean sea bass to become extinct.
Some fisheries use the fact that they practice sustainable fishing as a marketing strategy.
They know that some people are going to be willing to pay more for fish if they know it comes from a sustainable source.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because of the costs associated with sustainable farming and its impact on supply.
6. High Demand
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons Chilean sea bass is so expensive is that there’s a lot of demand for it.
Part of the reason there’s a lot of demand for Chilean sea bass is its flavor.
The bass has a naturally nutty and buttery flavor to it.
That makes it quite tasty for some seafood lovers right from the start.
Chefs don’t have to do too much to dress the fish up.
Another reason there’s a lot of demand for it is the health benefits that it provides.
Chilean sea bass is a great source of protein.
Protein plays an important role in the body.
It can help build and maintain muscle.
It’s also helpful in keeping your skin, nails, and hair healthy.
In addition to all that, protein can provide you with energy.
Eating Chilean sea bass provides a lot of protein while remaining low on calories.
That makes it great for those who are trying to cut calories.
Like any other fish, it’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help maintain your eye health and reduce chronic inflammation.
Since Chilean sea bass tastes great and is healthy, there’s a lot of demand for it.
That means the price is also higher since high demand usually results in more expensive prices.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because it’s in high demand.
7. Storage And Transport Costs
Fisheries don’t just have fishing costs to consider.
They also have to store and transport the fish they catch.
This becomes another big cost to fisheries because storing and transporting Chilean sea bass isn’t cheap.
For one, they need to use refrigerated storage to ensure the fish stays fresh for as long as possible.
Without it, their fish would spoil quickly.
Refrigeration is expensive.
Depending on where they’re delivering the fish, they could also be facing high import fees and fuel costs.
Some might transport across the ground while others transport with sea vessels.
Either way, high fuel costs can make transport extremely expensive.
To cover those costs, the fishery has to put higher prices on its fish.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because of the high cost of storing and transporting it.
8. Seasonal Prices
In places that regulate Chilean sea bass, fishing is often done in seasons.
There may be certain seasons in which the sea bass is easier to catch.
This means that fisheries will use that specific time to catch as many sea bass as the regulations will allow.
However, it’s only during that specific season.
Outside of that season, sustainable fisheries aren’t fishing for sea bass.
This impacts the price of sea bass because it means the supply of sea bass is even lower during certain parts of the year.
Since the supply is extremely low, people who want to import sea bass are going to face extremely high prices to source it.
Because they are taking on higher prices, they’re going to sell at higher prices.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because it’s typically scarcer outside of its main fishing season.
9. Professional Chefs And Labor Costs
It isn’t just the fish you’re paying for when eating it at a restaurant.
Part of the price comes from the cost of hiring professional chefs that prepare it.
You might find that a Chilean sea bass meal at a restaurant is expensive because the chef is particularly skilled at cooking it.
The experience you have with the meal isn’t something that’s easily replicated elsewhere.
Restaurants that hire a professional chef who can elevate Chilean sea bass tend to pay extra for those chefs.
To cover their costs, they put a high price on their sea bass meal.
Chilean sea bass is expensive when you eat it from a professional chef who has a reputation for making incredible Chilean sea bass meals.
10. High-End Restaurants
A final reason Chilean sea bass is expensive is that you’re eating it at a high-end restaurant.
Expensive seafood restaurants often have Chilean sea bass on the menu because it’s seen as a premium type of fish.
The problem with eating sea bass at a high-end restaurant is that it’s going to be very expensive.
It will certainly be more expensive to eat it there than to prepare it at home.
That’s because you’re paying for a lot more than just the fish.
You’re also paying for the experience and service that you receive at the restaurant.
Eating Chilean sea bass at home is going to be a bit cheaper than eating it at a fancy restaurant.
Chilean sea bass is expensive because it’s often served at high-end seafood restaurants that charge expensive prices.NEXT: Why Is Dragon Fruit So Expensive? (10 Reasons)