Israelis will eat 700 tons of carp, 550 tons of tilapia, 300 tons of tuna, and 150 tons of bass this Pesach season, the Israel Fish Growers Association said. No shortages are expected this year, even though Israeli carp production was down about 500 tons for the year.
That’s because imports have more than made up for the lack of Israeli production. Carp import limits were raised over the past year, and the duty on imported carp was slashed. As a result, there is more carp on the market, and the price is below what it was last year. The same phenomenon applies to other fish, but on a smaller scale. As a result, there has been a 300-percent increase in carp sales so far in the pre-Pesach season this year compared to last year. Tilapia sales are up 25 percent over last year, as are mullet (60 percent) and bass (30 percent).
Eli Sherir, chairman of the Israel Fish Growers Association, said that “as we do each year before Pesach, we’ve seen this year an increase in fish sales, and especially of fresh fish. The reduction in duty on imported fish has helped bring down the price of fish that Israeli growers can get for their fish substantially, but much of those savings have not been passed on to the consumer. As happen often, the extra profit has remained in the pockets of importers and heads of the large markets.”
Because they earn less, Israeli fish farmers are producing less. Over the past year, production of Israeli-grown carp fell from 4,000 tons to 3,500 tons. With that, he added, “no shortages are expected.”