November 3, 2012

Shoppers snap up deals on fish after Sandy pushes prices down

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - John Kobrock of Gardiner doesn't normally drive to the Portland waterfront to buy fish on a Saturday.

click image to enlarge

Miles Foster, 4, checks out the seafood for sale at Harbor Fish Market while his grandfather, Craig Foster of Portland, purchases haddock on Saturday.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

But after dropping off his wife at the Portland International Jetport, that's just what he did, stopping at Harbor Fish Market on Custom House Wharf to take advantage of low seafood prices.

"I bought haddock, some mahi mahi," said Kobrock.

Kobrock was among a steady stream of shoppers lured to Maine's fish markets by some of the year's lowest prices, due to a drop in demand across the Northeast.

Superstorm Sandy virtually shut down major seafood markets in New York, where fish and lobster are not much on the minds of people wrestling with the aftereffects of the storm.

At the same time, many fishing boats came into port ahead of the storm, dumping a lot of fish on the market at once.

The price of groundfish plummeted by $3 to $5 a pound in the last week. At Harbor Fish Market, haddock was on sale for $6.99, down from $9.99 last week. Cod was $8.99 a pound, down from $13.99 before the storm.

Store manager Dan Kraus predicted the haddock would sell out by midday Sunday.

Kerry Courtice of Falmouth said she was pleasantly surprised to discover some bargains at Harbor Fish and bought up several pounds of haddock, mahi mahi and scallops.

"I'll freeze it," said Courtice.

Don Rudalevige of Cape Elizabeth, who buys fish once or twice a week, stocked up on gray sole -- $7.99 a pound, down from $9.99 the week before -- fish medley and chowder fish. He planned to make an Indian dish and saute the rest.

"A dollar is a dollar," Rudalevige said.

Jason Rimfret of South Portland said Maine's seafood prices, in general, continue to amaze him.

He said haddock costs $18 a pound and lobster is simply unaffordable in his native England.

John Backman of South Portland, who was shopping for Saturday supper, said he was worried about all the publicity surrounding fish prices.

"Now the price will go up," Backman laughed.

Fish dealers confirmed Backman's fears.

They predicted it would only be a matter of days before fish prices bounce back, as demand returns and the glut of fish subsides.

"The party is over," said John Merrill of P.J. Merrill seafood market on Forest Avenue.

 

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

 

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