I've always wanted to see how the fish we buy is traded before it hits the fish shops and chipperies but until now have never made the effort to go and actually do it.
The most remarkable aspect of a very clever and smooth operation was the complete absence of any 'fishy' smell. That''s got to be a good sign.
The chiller room was open at 0500 for lots to be inspected and noted prior to the auction starting at 0600. I saw species I of which I had never heard and will never eat.
You have to be really quick or you miss out. Everything is computerised and electronic so you sit at a desk and watch the price for your desired 'lot' come steadily down until you press your button. At that moment you own the bin or bins of fish at the 'clock stopped' price - or you miss out if someone beat you to the button.
I was amazed at the prices paid for some species. $5.50 per Kg for school shark - no wonder lemon fish sells retail for as much as $22.00. $5.00 for grey mullet compared with $2.30 to 5.00 for trevally and $5.00 for terakihi. Snapper ranged from $6.40 to $9.50.
When you consider that 'green fish' (guts in, scales on) yield about 33% fillets it's easy to see why snapper fillets cost up to $35/kg retail.
Another surprise was to see that of the sixty or so buyers present, at least sixty percent would have been Asians.