Decreasing supply leads to higher prices:
“Live Crabs, $5.99 per pound” reads the paper sign hanging on the glass door of Saltwater Seafood, which on a good day sells 2,000 pounds of fish and shellfish.
Two years ago, that same North Carolina hard-shell blue crab cost customers just $2.99 per pound.
It’s a sign of a faltering North Carolina commercial fishing industry. A surge in prices has accompanied a drop in the state’s fish and shellfish harvest, which fell in 2013 for the fourth year in a row to the lowest in 10 years, according to a recent report from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
The 50 million pounds of fish and shellfish North Carolina commercial fishermen landed in 2013 is 12 percent less than in 2012 and 21 percent down from the five-year average. But the value, close to $79 million, was 9 percent higher than in 2012 and the highest price per pound in a decade. ...
There are several reasons for the smaller catch, starting with a smaller number of active commercial fishermen, which is about two-thirds what it was a decade ago. Rising fuel costs, shoaling at Oregon Inlet and regulations that put some species of fish off-limits to commercial fishing for months at a time also contribute to fewer landings. ...
Rising costs, shoaling and regulations all increase the costs of production and decrease supply. Also, seafood demand is inelastic when quantity falls and spending rises.