Sydney Fish Market
Today we arrived at the Sydney Fish Market (SFM), the 3rd largest tourist attraction in Sydney, at 7a.m. We were split into two groups and given a tour and shown what goes on everyday.
The SFM is the 2nd largest fish market in the world, and only has 54 employees. The fish market is highly regulated by the commonwealth and state governments. 60% of the fish comes from New South Wales, 30% from the rest of Australia and 10% from New Zealand. This is one way they are staying sustainable, by not importing fish from all over the world. SFM also does have its own fishing port which only accounts for 5% of their fish. They have about 12 boats in their port. SFM works with Ocean Watch, is an organization that promotes a healthier environment. They work with the community and local farmers to help keep the water and wildlife healthy. They also work with fisherman on sustainable fishing practices. You can check out more about them at their website, http://www.oceanwatch.org.au/.
At the SFM the fish auction runs five days a week while the retail shops are open seven days a week. They begin setting up for each auction at 3p.m. the day before. At 2:30 a.m. a quality assurance team comes in and checks the temperatures of the fish, quality and that regulations are being met. At 4:30 a.m. the floor is open to buyers to go down and see what they want to buy. All crates are stacked by type of fish and provider. At 5:30 a.m. the auction starts and runs until everything is sold, usually around 8:30 – 9 a.m. When the auction is finished, everything is cleaned up and it starts all over again.
SFM runs a reverse auction, also known as a Dutch auction. The auctioneer starts the bid at what they think is a reasonable price and then the price goes down. One revolution around equals a dollar drop in price. Each buyer sits at a table with a keypad and when the price is where they want it they hit their bid button. The buyer then has 30 seconds to type in how many crates they want. Leftover crates are auctioned immediately after, starting the price at about 50 cents higher than the first buyer. With this new auction style they now sell around 1000 craters per hour as opposed to 300 crates per hour with the traditional auction.
SFM also has a live crustaceans area where they still hold a traditional voice auction. This is done because the buyers like a closer look at the crustaceans and the auctioneer can stay in practice. After purchasing the crustaceans the buyers are able to look through each box to make sure the animals are healthy. If they feel some are not, they are taken out and set aside. The boxes are then weighed again and the buyer is refunded the difference. Most of the non-healthy crustaceans are unfortunately thrown out but they are working toward finding a partner that will turn these leftovers into fertilizer.
Tuna fish is graded everyday on the quality of the meat. This tuna is lined up, graded and ready to be sold. Most of them were B+ or B- fish.
We were done with the tour shortly after 8a.m. The rest of the day was for us to explore the city ourselves. A few of the students did the bridge climb at sunset and said it was amazing seeing everything lite up at night. Some others went to the Sydney Zoo and Aquarium. They also loved visiting these places. Eleven of us took the ferry out to Manly beach and took a surfing lesson. The weather was beautiful and the water was awesome. It was a lot of fun being in the water and learning how to stand up on the board. All of us successfully got up on the board. We were also able to see whales jumping in the distance while sitting on our boards in the ocean. It was amazing.
Sydney Fish Market – Pre Departure
Behind the scenes tour
We will experience how the Dutch auction and buying systems work, tour the Sydney Seafood School, tour of the auction floor, viewing over 100 species, witness oyster shucking, find out about sashimi, live product and their retail arcade. The tour lasts about 1-1 1/2 hours.
Approximately 2800 crates of seafood are auctioned everyday. The seafood is sourced from individual fisherman, co-ops, fishing businesses and aquaculture farms in Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia – Pacific Region with over 100 species available to buyers.
The Sydney Fish Market
The Sydney fish market is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and second largest fish market in terms of variety. The Sydney Fish Market trades over 14,500 tons of seafood annually and employs approximately 54 staff to organize the weekly auction, and promote the market as the center of seafood excellence and home of the Sydney Seafood School. It hosts 6 seafood retailers, a bottle shop, fruit and veg market, bakery, sushi bar, restaurants, gift shop and a deli.
In 1945 the New South Wales government amended the Fisheries and Oyster Farms Act. This transferred the marketing of fish to the Chief Secretary’s Department. They establish a regulated market system and controlled the centralized market in Sydney until 1994. The Sydney Fish Market Pty Ltd was formed on October 28th 1994 when the New South Wales privatized the marketing of seafood. A computerized Dutch auction in October 1989 which dramatically changed the way fish was sold.
The Sydney Seafood School – opened 1989
As Australia’s leading cooking school the Sydney Seafood School has over 12,000 guests taking classes each year. It has been important to the Sydney residents in persuading them to eat more fish. The school was initially established to create a demand for the more unusual species and has slowly broadened to teach local, interstate, and overseas food-lovers how to cook a huge variety of cuisines.They also offer several seafood recipes on their website, http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/FISHline/Recipes/tabid/92/Default.aspx, for you to try at home.
The fish market actively pursues and promotes strict environmentally sustainable practices at all levels of its business. It promotes the availability of and trade in, quality seafood that comes from ecologically sustainable wild fisheries and environmental best practice aquaculture. It supports scientific research into the sustainability of fisheries, while partnering with Ocean Watch Australia in its work with seafood suppliers to protect aquatic habitats and minimize the environmental impacts of seafood production. They also seek to minimize water run-off from the site, prevent pollution, and maximize the recycling of paper, plastic and fish waste.