Those who have been waiting patiently for the beginning of New Catch Holland Herring Seasonan early summer rite of passage in Jewish appetizing shops and delis across the countrywill have to wait a bit longer than usual this year as delays have struck the still-developing herring population.

Multiple outposts and restaurants across the country (including Aquavit) have been forced to postpone their annual celebrations of the well-loved fish until it’s ready to be harvested.

hollandPhoto: Stuff Dutch People Like

Like limes last summer and avocados this winter, could herring could be the food shortage scare of the summer?

For more insight into the delays, Joshua Russ Tupper (a fourth generation co-owner of LES institution Russ & Daughters) provided a bit of historical context and fishy, scientific know-how.

“Every year, they set an opening of the season date, but as they get closer to the date they’ll go out and sample the fat content of this fish. If it’s not above 12 or 14 percent, they’ll postpone the opening of the season for a week or 10 days so that the fish can gain more fat content,” said Tupper. “A number of things probably contributed to the low fat contentweather, temperaturebut the immediate cause is a lack of plankton, which is what they eat. I’m not 100% sure the inner working of the North Sea, but being too cold, too hot, or too stormy could all contribute.

(Global warming, anyone?)


As for any potential shortage, Tupper puts our fears to rest.

“There won’t be a shortage. The fish are out there, the fat just isn’t there yet. The season is for everyone, though, so everyone else importing directly is impacted as well by the delay. It’s not just us.”

Russ & Daughters’ herring supply will be available June 18 for shipping nationwide and delivery across the five boroughs.

For those who are uninitiated and looking to experience their first bite of the fish worthy of so much concern, Aquavit is hosting its yearly Herring Festival beginning June 15. The event runs through July 10 and will feature a whopping nine different styles of herring preparations (matjes, glassblower, mustard, aquavit and horseradish, green tomato, lemon, chive and cucumber, rhubarb, and rullmop) in addition to Aquavit pairings.