Seafood wholesalers and restaurateurs along the East Coast say fish supplies are drying up and prices are zooming because of a strike that has tied up scores of boats at New Bedford, Mass., the nation's richest fishing port.
Two-thirds of the 1,200 fishermen in New Bedford have vowed to stop fishing until boat owners back down from their demands for a larger percentage of catch profits. Owners of the port's 150 boats say poor catches and skyrocketing costs are cutting deeply into their profits.
Since the strike began just after Christmas, the price of haddock at the Boston fish auction has jumped from $1 per pound to $3, about 20 percent higher than this time last year, said Ed MacLeod, director of the northeast region for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Sole reached $5.60 a pound in Providence, the highest Rhode Island Fish Co. owner Steve Shallcross said he's seen in his 30 years in the business.
Fishery officials say New Bedford supplies 75 percent to 90 percent of the nation's sea scallops and a significant portion of many other seafoods. New Bedford's $109 million catch in 1984 made it the nation's richest port.