The Great Gefilte Fish Shortage

Fresh-made gefilte fish is hard to find this Passover season, because the harsh winter restricted fishing on the Great Lakes, sharply decreasing the supply of an essential input—whitefish. While this delicacy is not required by ritual, it is traditional—and with fresh-ground horseradish it is a mouth- (and eye-) watering treat.  One would think that a rising price would equilibrate the market, but it hasn’t—apparently merchants did not want to antagonize customers by raising prices.  Indeed, the nature-induced shortage in the market for fresh gefilte fish has increased the demand in the related market for the pre-made Manischewitz product, so that is hard to find too.  Pretty sad when you can’t find gefilte fish even in Manhattan!

Good News: We're Getting Better at Not Killing Sea Turtles

Human-caused sea turtle deaths are down 94% since 1990 because of “fisheries-specific bycatch mitigation measures.” Basically, it means we're getting better at not catching sea turtles in giant fishing and shrimping nets. A paper to be published in the November issue of the journal Biological Conservation compiles the first cumulative estimates of the number of sea turtles unintentionally caught across U.S. fisheries between 1990 and 2007 -- before and after implementation of mitigation measures. The researchers are careful to point out, however, that they cannot account for off-the-books fisheries. They write in their abstract:

Our estimates represent minimum annual interactions and mortality because our methods were conservative and we could not analyze unobserved fisheries potentially interacting with sea turtles.

Before measures were put in place 20 years ago, 300,000 sea turtles were victims of bycatch, and 70,000 were killed every year.