Sydney Fish Market Ready for Million-Dollar Revamp

As the clock strikes 12, so does the lunch time crowd at The Sydney Fish Market. There is plenty of action and why wouldn’t there be when an array of Australian seafood is under the spotlight – or on centre stage. The seafood, from NSW and across Australia, glistens on ice in retailers, sitting like prized possessions – like a king or queen on their throne. From retail outlets, restaurants, a sushi bar, oyster bar, tours of the auction and a highly regarded cooking school – the Sydney Fish Market offers a captivating experience that preserves the cultural significance of the seafood industry whilst promoting the finest, fresh seafood Australia has to offer.

Sydney Fish Market – home to an abundance of Australian seafood, retailers, a sushi bar, oyster bar and a highly regarded cooking school.

A hub of commotion – Over 3 million tourists (from around the world), locals and chefs flock through the doors annually to taste and haggle for some of the best Australian seafood from the likes of grilled baby octopus, abalone, sea urchins, grilled lobster, raw oysters, grilled Barramundi to flamed grilled scallops (with cheese) – that needs to be seen to be believed. Selfie sticks are abundant, as are selfies, with people guilty of playing with their food – fascinated with the fresh seafood surrounding them. There are continuous flashes, as happy snaps, often a mixed combination of pure excitement and even disbelief, are trying to be achieved to upload online to followers.

Fresh Aussie produce can be found everywhere!

Consumers, of all ages and demographics, have the option to choose to enjoy their seafood meal inside the iconic precinct or on the waterfront deck that reflects the heritage of the site – including an iconic harbour setting, ornamented with stationed fishing boats. Hungry (but extremely healthy) seagulls are on the prowl, searching for their next victim – or even better – a surprise, tasty find.

3 million tourists annually visit the Sydney Fish Market. That number is expected to double after the revamp.

It is the third largest fish market in the world behind Tsukiji in Tokyo and Stanley in Hong Kong and the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – trading over 13,500 tonnes of seafood annually. This is made up of one hundred seafood species traded every day and approximately 500 species traded annually.

The Sydney Fish Markets have resided in Blackwattle Bay, Plymouth since 1966 – where the auctions were slightly different ‘back in the day’. From being labour intensive to having voice auction system – the traditional system saw buyers assemble outside the sales bay fence and assistants hold up samples of fish from each box for buyers to bid – until there was a winner.

Fast forward to 2018, the days of no technology at the auction are long gone and there isn’t much around the floor that doesn’t use technology. It has and continues to play a huge role in the development of the business given the efficiencies, speed in which the auction can operate and the increase of real-time information. People from around the country, let alone the world can now log-in to the system and place a bid on species that are pursuing.

SFM has been using the Dutch clock auction since 1989. Adopted from the Dutch tulip auctions.

But after 52 years – changes are on the horizon for the Sydney Fish Market. In 2017 the New South Wales state government unveiled plans for a $250 million significant redesign and transformation of Blackwattle Bay, shifting the Sydney Fish Market to a new home. The project milestone is expected to begin in late 2018, taking approximately 3 years to complete, with internationally recognised, Danish architects, 3XN – in collaboration with GXN, in charge of sustainability, BVN as executive practice, Aspect Studios and landscape architect and Wallner Weiss as public art specialist – chosen to redesign the precinct.

Changes are on the horizon for the Syd Fish Market – part of a 250 million revamp of the Black Wattle Bay in Pyrmont.

The iconic fish market will be relocated to a wharf in Blackwattle Bay on Bridge Road and will undergo a complete makeover. Although the final design has yet to be announced, the existing markets will more than double in size, to 35,000 square metres of floor space. This includes 15,000 square metres of retail space for seafood and fresh produce and space for restaurants, takeaway shops and bars. It has been said that the new markets are expected to triple the economic value to Sydney and double the amount of visitors from three million to six million per year.

Key stakeholders have stressed the importance of maintaining an authentic atmosphere and aim to operate close to the long-standing wharf that embodies NSW’s fishing heritage. The modern architecture is said to reflect the heritage of the site, increasing the outdoor seating for more than 3,000 people, as well as wharves with mooring spaces for fishing and recreational vessels. This vibrant fish market precinct will entice more tourists and locals to the area to enjoy all that the markets have to offer including an authentic, cultural experience and world class seafood.

Preserving of culture heritage is an important aspect to this redevelopment.

It is an exciting time for the world to discover what a seafood market, paired with modern facilities, a contemporary design, an innovative platform for the finest fresh produce and seafood and the world’s best auction systems – can offer. A strong combination to ensure that long term economic growth is achieved.

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