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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

What lies beneath the surface in the great fish market mystery

Unravelling the real reason why fish prices have spiked markedly in recent days

Fish prices have recently risen wildly, with 20 to 30 per cent increases reported in Dibba fish market alone. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
Fish prices have recently risen wildly, with 20 to 30 per cent increases reported in Dibba fish market alone. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National

If you want to see market forces at work in their rawest form, then you should head to a fish or fruit market. When stock or produce comes in, its price ebbs and flows on its popularity and availability. Other factors too, may determine price, such as sentiment and volume.

So what should we make of the reported spike in fish prices this summer? Prices have recently risen wildly, with 20 to 30 per cent increases reported in Dibba fish market alone. Some fish varieties aren’t anywhere to be found in stores or at the market.

There is little mystery to be found in all of this, rather this is a case of economic forces mixed with forces of nature. During the long summer months, fish seek cooler waters than the slowly warming shallows of the Arabian Gulf. Fishermen also do not tend to go out as much because of the heat and they are not allowed to fish at night. One fact feeds the other and scarcity of fish leads to a lack of fishing trips being made, which then drives prices up. Such market forces tend to hit fish prices every year at this time. By contrast, fish markets tend to have better stock at cheaper prices in the winter months.

A healthy market is a market that regulates itself and that is where we return to the fish traders and the fruit and veg stalls. So long as prices are only rising on scarcity caused by hot weather and not by overfishing, then the market is in good shape, even if we will all have to endure the pain of paying a few extra dirhams for the catch of the day.

Updated: July 9, 2017 06:12 PM

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