Live Fish Trade - Consumer Demand

Consumer Demand

Within the live food trade there are certain types of fish demanded more often by consumers, particularly smaller and medium-sized fish. According to the book While Stocks Last: The Live Reef Food Fish Trade consumer demand has caused the fish captured on coral reefs to be the most valued fish in the trade. Consumers are important because they are directly purchasing these fish species at restaurants and stores. In addition to these types of fishes, many juvenile fish are used for the live food trade. There are also cultural and regional preferences among consumers, for example, Chinese consumers often prefer their fish to be reddish in color believing the color to be auspicious (Sadovy, Y.J, 393). These preferences inevitably affect the biodiversity of marine life making certain fish species rarer to find.

The life fish food trade is a lucrative business. According to University of Washington Professor Patrick Christie, live fish caught for food export earns approximately $6000 a ton. To help support themselves and their families, fishermen in Oceania and Southeast Asia sometimes use illegal fishing methods. Although many feel the fish are worth the cost, a typical dinner can cost up to one hundred dollars per kilogram. The wholesale value on these fish is anywhere from eleven US dollars to sixty-three US dollars per kilogram, meaning there’s a large markup and resale value. (Hong Kong alone is estimated to be about four hundred million US dollars a year.) Because this trade frequently uses illegal methods of collecting (using cyanide), there is no way to know for sure how much money is being made each year on live fish trade, although estimates conclude probably over one billion US dollars each year.

As is often the case, consumers are willing to pay large amounts of money on rare and fresh fish. One 500-pound, polka-dot grouper, estimated to be more than a century old, was hacked into fillets by seven kitchen workers in about half an hour, the Economist reports. It was expected to bring about $15,000. (Moll 1996)

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Famous quotes containing the words demand and/or consumer:

    ...America has enjoyed the doubtful blessing of a single-track mind. We are able to accommodate, at a time, only one national hero; and we demand that that hero shall be uniform and invincible. As a literate people we are preoccupied, neither with the race nor the individual, but with the type. Yesterday, we romanticized the “tough guy;” today, we are romanticizing the underprivileged, tough or tender; tomorrow, we shall begin to romanticize the pure primitive.
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