The cost of haddock and cod, two of the most popular fish in Irish kitchens, has risen by 75 per cent in less than 12 months and more increases are set to come, the industry has warned.

Irish trawler skippers are struggling with a 100 per cent increase in diesel costs in less than a year, while a shortage of crews is making it hard for some boats to get to sea.

Fishermen are price-takers not price-makers,” mussel producer Patrick Murphy said. “This increase in fuel cost, if it continues, will see many fishers unable to go to sea, the boats will be tied up and this will mean a shortage of fish.

“A shortage of fish will, of course, cause an increase in prices once again, an increase that will not make it’s way down to the fisherman.”

Irish seafood was worth €1.26 billion to the economy last year, partly helped by people living in lockdown eating more fish at home. Not all fish species have seen the same level of increase as cod and haddock, but most have risen by some 15 per cent.

Pat O’Connell, who operates a fish retail and wholesale business from the English Market in Cork city, believes there is no sign of the price pressures easing soon.

“We are managing the increasing costs as best we can,” he said. ”The price of fish has increased right across the board but this has been the result of a perfect storm for the industry as the effects of Brexit continue to rumble on coupled with the ever-increasing cost of fuel.

“Fish has been scarce and we find ourselves having to make two runs to collect fish where we would have only need one trip before, so we have focused on supplying the wholesale customers we have and not adding to our list.

“The cost of running refrigeration units 24/7 is a huge factor with electricity prices now at an all-time high.”

Mr O’Connell has seen an increase in the number of people buying fresh fish and seeing to support local businesses since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Fish is the healthy option but there is only so much people will be able to pay for our fish, so we are being responsible and working to be more efficient, to manage the situation we are in and to absorb whatever we can,” he said. “Hopefully, it will start leveling off, this situation can’t go on much longer.”

Aisling Moore, seafood chef at Goldie in Cork city, is concerned not only at the increasing cost of fresh fish but at the higher prices across the board when running a restaurant.

“We try to keep our costs down as our model here is all about processing the fish ourselves and using every bit of that fish. This is labour intensive but it’s not only that everything has increased electricity, oil, even milk,” she said.

“Come September there will be a different story and I am not optimistic that things are going to stabilise or even get better. The prices we are seeing now have never been higher.”

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