Price of seafood is rising; local fish houses, boats try to help keep it down

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Although Destin is located on the Gulf of Mexico, it doesn’t exempt them from the price of seafood rising. 

Just like everything in the last couple of years, since the onset of the world-wide pandemic, the price of seafood has gone up. 

However, some of the local seafood wholesalers are trying to help our local fish markets and restaurants by keeping prices down. 

Aaron Perks of Destin Ice Seafood Market shows off one of the freshly caught pompano they have at the market.

“It’s a challenge,” said David Krebs of Ariel Seafood Inc. “You can mitigate some of it because you have local production. But my concern has always been, are we being fair to the boats. The fish house can work closer, and we can trim a little bit here and there, but we’re just trying to make sure it works for everybody. 

“The guys on the water; they are the ones working the hardest. As long as they can make a living then we don’t need to push, push, push on these prices,” Krebs said. 

More local news:New public beach, parks and zoning top list of accomplishments for Destin in 2021

Krebs said they have actually gone up 25 cent a pound on their seafood, which is $1.50 lower than Miami and other places, he said. 

“I’m like everybody. You sit back and say, how long can it last?” Krebs said. “Why do you want to take advantage of your customers and alienate people from good Destin Florida seafood … you don’t want to do that.

“But you do run into the situation of being fair to your producers,” he said, noting the boats.  

James Duff is manager of Destin Ice Seafood Market and Deli.

James Duff, manager at Destin Ice Seafood Market and Deli on Harbor Boulevard in Destin, has been having trouble getting a lot of products, not just seafood. 

For example, the jars that he uses to put seasonings in for sale in his market have become much harder to find.

“It’s like everything,” Duff said. 

More:Destin convoy: Brothers helping brothers 'because we should'

“There’s a company that are not making some of the stuff they used to because they don’t have the people to make it … people are sitting at home with their checks,” Duff said. 

Duff said he had a hard time with labor back in the summer. 

“If you drove up and down 98 five or six months ago, every place had a help wanted sign out,” he said. “It’s all of us … it’s everybody."

The commercial fishing vessel Alleluia is one of Ariel Seafood Market's fishing vessels.

Duff does get most of his seafood for the market from the local boats, such as the ones associated with Ariel Seafood, plus Harbor Docks and some from Panama City. 

“We get a whole lot of local stuff,” he said. 

More fishing news:FISH FLASH: Twilight crew lands huge swordfish while tuna fishing

The biggest increase Duff has seen in seafood is on the crab side. 

“It’s tripled over everything else,” he said, noting it’s hard to find as well. 

James Duff, manager of Destin Ice Seafood Market says they have plenty of fish right now.

“King crabs have gone so high you can’t even buy them … it’s tripled from what it was,” Duff said, noting some king crab is going for $45 a pound. 

Snow crab has gone up as well over a two-year period. 

"It’s crazy,” Duff said. "But we’re still getting plenty of fresh seafood in here. 

More:It’s a wrap: 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is in the books

“I’m getting product …  just not in the abundance we’d like to get,” Duff said. 

But he did have plenty of fish on ice last week. 

Have the prices gone up for the customer? 

A worker hauls the vats of red snapper onto a truck to be taken to Ariel Seafood Market in Destin after a trip last year.

“Oh yes,” Duff said. “Everybody has, I don’t know of a place that has not gone up. Anything you can think of, it has gone up.” 

Dewey Destin of Dewey Destin Seafood Restaurants said the local boats like Kreb and Harbor Docks are helping to try and keep the prices down. 

"Prices are going up on everything,” Destin said. 

Right before Christmas, Destin said the price of crab lump meat went from $13 to $23. 

And even the price of oil to fry the fish in has gone up, Destin said, noting it went from about $18 to $41 for the container they get for the restaurant. 

Destin Ice Seafood Market is located on Harbor Boulevard in downtown Destin.

“But we’ve done ok so far,” Destin said. 

On Friday, Krebs had three boats come in at Destin harbor and unload about 10,000 pounds of fish. Between the three boats they had 70 percent red snapper, along with a little bit of triggerfish, gag grouper, red grouper and few beeliners. 

“We’ve worked really hard with the restaurants over the last 10 years to stabilize these prices, where they could have product on their menu year-round,” Krebs said. 

But for now, he said, they are “absolutely” trying to keep prices down. 

David Krebs of Ariel Seafood works the forklift to get the ice loaded onto one of the trailers the convoy from Destin was delivering to Louisiana in 2021.

“We’re not taking full advantage of the market, and we’re not going to and we don’t need to … that's the blessing that we have,” Krebs said. “We’re a small-town fish house with low overhead. We don’t have to go out there and demand all these crazy prices.”