GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) With the Lenten season upon us lots of people will be taking in a Friday night fish fry. But as Kris Schuller reports, if you’re planning to eat yellow perch, it may not be on the menu. And if it is, it likely will be expensive.
At Gipper’s Sports Bar and Grill, owner Bob Geniesse plans to have perch on his menu for Lent. It just won’t be yellow perch taken out of the Great Lakes.
“There has been a shortage on lake perch, so I’ve been buying European perch for about three, four months now. I tell my customers straight up what it is,” said Geniesse.
He’s buying European perch because it costs much less than yellow perch, currently selling for nearly $16 a pound.
“Too expensive and if I had to pass that price on to my customer, I think it would be too pricey for them to pay for it,” Geniesse said.
The reasons for this yellow perch shortage are many and one supplier we spoke with Monday expects it will be that way for sometime.
“We simply can’t supply our bars and restaurants and customers with the perch that just aren’t really available,” said Dale Klimek, general manager at Seaway Foods Co.
Seafood wholesaler Klimek says most yellow perch come from Lake Erie. But high water levels, a lack of employees in the commercial fishing industry and a growing population of one predatory fish, has created a dire perch shortage that has stretched over six months.
“There is a high walleye population and they are eating some of the small perch,” said Klimek.
The yellow perch Klimek does find sells quickly, but at a premium.
“The price is high, but again it’s only once a week and I’m willing to pay a little more for perch,” said Gene Patek, who bought yellow perch from Klimek’s retail store.
But Geniesse says he’ll stick with European perch and offer more haddock and walleye. At least until the shortage ends and the price of yellow perch starts to fall.
“There have been shortages in the past, but never this bad,” Geniesse said.
Many experts expect the perch shortage will last a few more years.