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Restaurant seafood prices since 1850s help plot marine harvests through history

f lobster (normalized to 1 pound). Prior to 1880 lobster meals were rarely offered but lobster salad was common. Prices rise faster than inflation starting in the 1860's, a trend continued until the mid/late 1920's. In the 1930's and 1940's the inflation-adjusted price fell but from the 1950's to the 1970's it again exceeded inflation. In years since then the inflation-adjusted price has remained stable or fallen slightly.

3) Inflation-adjusted prices of Sole from the 1860's to today (including the generic Filet of Sole, Lemon Sole and Gray Sole. Does not include Dover/English Sole). Prices closely tracked inflation from the 1860's to the 1950's, then rose three times faster than inflation until the early 1980s. Since then inflation-adjusted prices have slightly fallen.

4) Inflation-adjusted prices of swordfish. Despite the start of a swordfish fishery in the 1880's, no restaurant menu entry for swordfish is seen prior to 1909. The large pelagic swordfish had stable inflation-adjusted prices until the mid 1950's, after which they rose rapidly. Prices rose three times faster than inflation until the late 1970's, after which they appear to have slightly fallen.

5) Inflation-adjusted prices of raw oysters. Raw oysters have been popular on restaurant menus for over 150 years. The inflation adjusted prices from New York and Massachusetts restaurant menus very closely track the inflation rate from the 1850's to the 1950's, after which they doubled in less than 10 years. Inflation-adjusted prices have been stable for much of the past 40 years.


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Source:Census of Marine Life


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