Besides its health benefits, many people enjoy eating fish because of its tender meat and delicious flavor.
It’s a flavor that no other meat can mimic.
The problem with eating seafood is that it’s expensive.
You may wonder why fish is so expensive when the ocean is full of them.
Here’s what you need to know about why fish is so expensive.
Why Is Fish So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Cost Of Fishing Ships
Commercial fishing requires the use of large fishing ships.
They use large nets to gather as much fish as they can carry back to shore.
The problem with fishing ships is that they’re expensive.
The sea is hard on maritime vessels.
Ships rust, break, and face other problems on the job.
Fishing companies have to regularly maintain their fishing ships to keep them operational.
That takes a lot of money.
It also takes a lot of money to man the ships.
Fishing is a dangerous job.
Anything can happen out on the water.
Since they’re so far away from land, fishing could cost them their life.
As a result, fishermen need to receive a good amount of pay to make up for the danger.
Their wages also reflect in the price of fish.
The more dangerous it is to catch a certain type of fish, the more expensive it’s going to be.
Suppliers pass the risk of fishing onto their consumers.
2. Deep-Sea Travel
To catch fish in the deep sea, companies need to make an even larger investment.
The fishing ship needs to be large enough to handle the waves.
The nets need to be strong enough to take in larger types of fish.
The workers need supplies.
They could be away from the mainland for several days while they try to fill their quotas.
That means they’ll need food, fresh water, and medical supplies in case of injuries.
It isn’t convenient for the ship to turn back in the event of an injury.
It costs them fuel and time.
Ships need plenty of supplies before venturing out into the deep ocean.
This part of the job is even more dangerous than it is for those who fish closer to the shore.
That’s because they’re subject to storms and serious waves.
Fishing ships can face destruction if they become caught in a storm.
Companies that do deep-sea fishing take on a lot of risk.
If a fishing ship becomes lost or destroyed, then they need to buy a new ship, pay the lost workers’ families, and find new workers.
That risk drives up the price of fish.
3. Fishing Regulations
Because of a serious shortage of fish, conservationists demanded a series of fishing regulations.
These regulations dictate when certain types of fish are available for fishing, how much they can fish, and who gets to fish.
Defying the regulations can hit fishermen with a hefty fine.
They may even lose their business.
The regulations also require various licenses and documentation to ensure everything is legal.
Processing that documentation and acquiring the licenses can be costly.
Before fishermen can even get on the water, they’re already in debt.
To make up for the debt, fish has an expensive price to generate enough profit to cover these initial expenses.
4. Increased Demand Due To Health Benefits From Fish
As people try to become healthier, they become more aware of the health benefits that fish provide.
Doctors suggest that everyone should eat fish at least twice a week.
That’s something the American Heart Association agrees with, too.
The reason doctors suggest eating fish often is because of its omega-3 fatty acid content among other properties.
Omega-3 fatty acids help your cardiovascular system.
They keep blood flowing through your veins and reduce plaque in your arteries.
As a result, you lower your chances of experiencing a heart attack.
Omega-3 fatty acids aren’t the only healthy aspect of fish either.
Fish also contain vitamin D.
Vitamin D is good for your mental health, brain health, and it keeps your bones healthy.
This is especially important in older individuals.
Bones start to lose their density as an individual ages.
Adding regular amounts of vitamin D to your diet can support your bone health.
Since your teeth are also bones, vitamin D helps keep them strong and healthy.
There’s less of a chance of losing your teeth when you’re older.
Fish also contains B2.
Vitamin B2 plays a critical role in converting food into energy.
It can boost your metabolism and make you feel more energetic after a meal.
Since it stimulates your metabolism, your body has an easier time breaking down stored fats and carbs in your body.
You may lose some weight.
Finally, fish contain various minerals like calcium, phosphate, zinc, and other helpful minerals that keep your body functioning at an optimal level.
Since fish does a lot for your health, there’s a high demand for it.
People believe that the more fish they eat, the healthier they’ll be.
That increases the demand for fish when the supply is already low.
The result is an increased price.
5. Inland Locations
The more inland you are, the more expensive the fish is going to be.
Fish on coastal properties is cheaper than inland properties.
That’s because the coastal properties are closer to the source.
Inland locations require several shipping procedures to receive their fish.
Shipping fish isn’t easy.
It can come in two forms.
Some suppliers will ship a whole fish to the location.
These require specialized shipping containers that keep the fish cool.
Since they’re transporting food, the shippers also need to pass a series of sanitary regulations at each checkpoint.
That takes time and money.
The further that they need to go, the more fuel and time it costs.
The price of the fish increases with every mile.
The other way that suppliers will ship fish is when they’re already cut.
These types of fish often make their way to grocery stores.
They require the same kind of refrigeration, but because they’re already cut and packaged, handling them is a little easier.
Besides shipping, it also depends on where you’re buying the fish from when you’re inland.
Inland restaurants will ask for a high price because they’re buying specific fish.
When they buy specific fish, the cost is high.
They make their money back by charging their guests a high price for their dishes.
Grocery stores are a little cheaper because they can buy fish at wholesale value.
They’re still going to be more expensive at inland locations than they are at coastal locations.
The packaging part of shipping is extremely expensive for fish.
There are two main ways to package fish.
The first is using a Styrofoam box that’s filled with ice.
The box keeps the area insulated with the cold temperature.
Packagers then fill the box with fish and place a few more ice chunks on top of them.
This is the cheapest way to package fish, but it still costs a decent amount of money.
That’s because the ice melts over time.
Suppliers need to keep replenishing the ice even if the boxes are in a refrigerated compartment.
The other way to package fish is by using gel packs.
During this method, a Styrofoam or similar type of box is also used.
It’s filled with cooling gel packs designed to keep areas cold.
They’re an advanced way to keep fish cold.
As such, they’re also pricier.
The good news is that gel packs last longer than ice cubes.
Considering that a supplier needs to ship out several tons of fish at a time, packaging can become expensive.
The further inland someone is, then the higher the cost of the fish due to the packaging expenses.
Certain types of fish are extremely rare.
The rarest types of fish include:
- Bluefin tuna
Among those types of fish exist even rarer variants.
The reason they’re rare is that they’re scarce in their natural environment.
Some of them are on the endangered list.
Others are only allowed to be captured in small amounts to help boost their numbers.
Because suppliers can only catch a few of them at a time, it creates a scarcity in the market.
When something is scarce, the price immediately rises.
That’s because the demand for the product is still high.
Since suppliers can’t give everyone their share of the product, they raise their price.
At that point, whoever can afford the increased price gets to buy it.
Some of these types of fish are also difficult to catch.
That difficulty increases its scarcity and drives up its price.
One example of a rare fish is Almas caviar.
A supply of Almas caviar sells for around $34,000.
That’s because Almas caviar is among some of the rarest caviar in the world.
8. Chef Expertise
Another reason that fish is expensive is that some types of fish need expert cooking to be safe for consumption.
An example is the pufferfish.
It’s toxic and eating it without careful preparation and cooking can send someone to the hospital.
That’s why if a restaurant plans on selling pufferfish dishes, they need to invest in an experienced chef.
Those types of chefs don’t come cheap.
To pay their chef’s salary, the restaurant needs to increase the price of the fish.
Pufferfish is also a rare type of fish, so it already has an expensive price tag.
Having it cooked professionally by a specially trained executive chef raises the price tag even further.
9. Fish Farms Are Expensive To Run
Since the oceans are almost out of fish, many suppliers are starting their own fish farms.
The problem with fish farms is that they’re extremely difficult to maintain.
The first problem they run into is space.
Fish need space to multiply and swim.
Without space, they can become weak and ill.
It can impact the quality of the meat.
Investing in land is pricey.
Another major price point is the cost of maintaining the swimming tanks.
Each fish needs its own specific temperature, pH level, and other properties to be healthy.
If a supplier is farming several different types of fish, each with its own requirements, then it can become expensive trying to cover them all.
They may need to use several different generators to keep the water warm or clean and
invest in several tons of chemicals to keep the pH of the water correct.
Because fish are in tanks, the water isn’t moving.
Stagnant water quickly becomes dirty.
Suppliers need to keep it clean to protect the fish and the consumer.
A fish farm also comes with its own risks.
When livestock like cattle or pigs falls ill, a farmer can separate the ill animal from the rest of the animals.
That ensures that the rest of the herd is safe and healthy.
Fish farmers can’t do that as easily.
For one, it’s harder to detect when a fish is ill.
By the time its symptoms are noticeable, it may have infected the rest of the pool.
An entire pool of fish could fall ill and die, or they may not be sellable.
That’s a large chunk of money that the supplier wasted.
Because fish farms are expensive, the fish from the fish farms are also going to be expensive.
One of the biggest factors driving up the price of fish is overfishing.
Too many people want to eat seafood.
Because of that, fishing companies are under pressure to meet those demands.
Regulations try to keep overfishing from occurring, but they aren’t working.
As fishing corporations continue to empty the sea of fish, they’re only generating more scarcity.
Before too long, there won’t be enough seafood to go around.
Fish will become a luxury item—even more so than it is now.
Besides fishing corporations, small-time fishers that operate illegally are also driving the scarcity.
Looking to make a quick buck, they fish in areas that they’re not supposed to.
When their fish don’t sell, they dump them out on the streets or back in the water.
One way consumers can help stop overfishing is by treating fish like a specialty food.
Right now, many consumers treat fish like a staple food.
It’s considered the same thing as beef or pork.
That isn’t the case.
By limiting how much fish someone eats in a year, they can reduce the strain on the chain of supply and demand.
How To Save Money On Fish
Because fish is expensive, you may have an interest in how you can help save some money on it.
Here are a few tips you can use to save money on seafood.
1. Look For Flaky And White Fish
When you’re shopping at the store or at a restaurant, you’ll have a few different choices of seafood.
If you want to save money, then you should choose fish that’s flaky and white.
This meat is cheaper than other types of fish meat.
With the same kind of flavor and texture, it’s only a little flakier than other types of fish.
2. Choose Mackerel Over Tuna
Tuna is almost a staple food for many people.
They love to put in their sandwiches, stews, and other dishes.
The problem with tuna is that it can become expensive.
To save yourself some money, you should consider choosing mackerel instead.
Mackerel is oilier than tuna, but it tastes just as good and is a lot cheaper.
Mackerel fish also acts similar to tuna meat, so you don’t have to change your cooking routine too much to accommodate it.
3. Buy Frozen Fish
The idea of buying frozen fish may turn up a few noses, but it’s a great way to save money.
Frozen fish isn’t much different from fresh fish except that it’s frozen longer.
You can still thaw it and have a practically fresh fish in your home.
Frozen fish is also ideal because you don’t have to cook it straight away.
When you buy fresh fish, then you need to cook it the same day or the day after.
You don’t have much of a window in which to save it and ensure it still tastes fresh.
With frozen fish, you can let it rest in your freezer for a few days before you decide to cook it.
It’s also a lot cheaper than buying fresh fish.
4. Buy Canned Fish
Another cheap way to save money on fish is to buy canned fish.
This is fish that has been semi-cooked already and has preservatives in it.
It lasts longer and tastes about the same as fresh or frozen fish.
The advantage of canned fish is that it’s cheaper and can last a long time.
5. Shop At Local Warehouses
If you live in a coastal area, then you can skip the markup pricing from grocery stores and restaurants by going to the supplier directly.
Many suppliers keep a warehouse to sell fish directly to consumers.
Because they often sell them at wholesale prices, you can go home with a large number of fish at a cheaper price than you would have paid at the store.
Look for independent and licensed fishermen from whom to buy your fish.
They’re going to offer cheaper prices than corporate fish suppliers.
6. Look For Sales
Understanding which fish are in season and when can help you save money.
When a fish is in season, then it means there is plenty of that type of fish to go around.
Suppliers will reduce the price to empty their inventory.
You can find out if a fish is in season by looking at sales that your grocery store is running.
If a fish is on sale, then it’s likely in season.
7. Buy Tails
You can make buying expensive fish cheaper by buying their tails instead.
Lobster tails and shrimp tails are delicious, provide plenty of meat, and are significantly cheaper than the whole lobster or shrimp.
You can buy several tails at the same price as buying an entire lobster.
The scarcity of fish and its difficulty in raising it via farming makes fish expensive.
Fishing is also a dangerous job which drives up the price for certain types of fish that are difficult to catch.
You can still save money by following the tips above.