By Louise Bozec
Fish prices are rising so sharply that some restaurateurs say their customers will soon be unwilling to pay the prices they have to charge.
Cod has doubled in price in some of Britain's fish markets in the past year, due to a combination of increase in demand and shortage of stocks. This is in contrast to overall inflation of just 4.2%.
Arthur Watson, owner of the Riverside Restaurant in Bridport, Dorset, for 35 years, said: "The BSE scare and the growing trend towards healthy living has meant a lot of people are discovering fish.
"If more restaurants turn to seafood, the supply is going to get worse, prices will get out of hand and there will be more and more fish that we and other restaurateurs won't be able to afford."
Mary Billinghurst, who runs the Number Thirty Three Seafood Restaurant in Perth with her husband Gavin, said: "We have had to put our prices up, but we have not been able to put them up to match the increase in the prices. The customers wouldn't like it.
"Unfortunately, as demand continues to increase, I fear the situation will get worse."
Wholesale manager Richard Lee of M&J Seafoods in Dorset is, however, optimistic. "It will encourage diversity of fishing," he said, "because the fact there might not be as much cod available as people would like will encourage them to try other, less popular species."