Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fish prices soar in Abu Dhabi :: Gulf Today

THE fish prices in Abu Dhabi have hit the roof following the hike in petrol prices on Sept.1. Customers have to cough up Dhs105 instead of Dhs60 for the hamour fish while price for Al Sha'ari has risen to Dhs60 from Dhs25. Al Jash now costs Dhs75 instead of Dhs40 and for Naysar one has to pay Dhs30 which was selling for Dhs 10. Al Badh is priced at Dhs40, earlier it was available for Dhs15.

The Abu Dhabi residents were shocked by the abnormal increase in fish prices fixed by both Asian traders and the Abu Dhabi Fishermen Co-operative Society at the port fish market. General director of Abu Dhabi Fishermen Co-operative Society Humeid Bin Harmous Al Rumeithi said this increase is due to the greedy fish traders who decided to hike up the fish prices and in turn adding more financial burden on the customers. "As the fish traders are free to fix fish prices according to demand and supply, there is no mechanism to control the fish prices in the market," he pointed out.
Basic economics. Petrol fuels fishing boats, so the increase in petrol prices pushed up the cost of fishing. The result is a decrease in the supply of fish. If the price of fish were to remain unchanged the quantity demanded would exceed quantity supplied. The price of fish gets bid up, encouraging production and discouraging consumption. Price eventually settles at a new higher equilibrium price.

Fish traders aren't any greedier than the rest of us. Fish prices may have taken a jump up that is out of the ordinary, but that price increase can be explained by the increase in the price of petrol. If there was a "mechanism" - government regulation - to control prices the results would be far more unpleasant. Many consumers would not find fish available. Further, fish traders could let the freshness of fish slip and still find willing buyers - if you're concerned about freshness now, don't wish for price controls.

Update. The story's no different in the northern emirates:
Customers in RAK say the price has almost doubled. Obaid Bin Rokn, a senior fisherman, said the fuel price hike has triggered the rise in fish prices in Ras Al Khaimah.
. . .
Abdullah Mohammad Sulaiman, an auction announcer in Fujairah harbour, said: "We used to pay Dh100 for gas to cover 30km and back, now we need at least Dh250 to cover the same distance.

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