As a part of the GIZ module which is a part of the course I am doing, I was among the few who went to Sassoon Docks to witness the age-old and immensely popular fish auction.
As you enter Sassoon Docks which resembles a fortress you are engulfed with an overpowering smell of the sea, a mixed stench of the stale remains of the previous day and of the fresh catch and which makes you breathless. But once you enter Mumbai’s biggest whole-sale fish market, your senses are captured with the buzzing and the hectic activity that makes the place a sight to behold.
Fishermen brought in tons of fish ashore. On one side nets overloaded with the fresh catch, were being emptied and left to dry whereas on the other side weavers were weaving and making new nets. The place was quite filthy. The fish water mixed with the fuel spilled out of the trawlers made the ground greasy and slippery. One had to watch their step lest one could skid and fall.
Shivaji, our guide for the day was one of the prominent suppliers among many out there to conduct business. He took us around, explaining how the catch was sorted, how the price was decided and deals were struck. He showed us the different kinds of trawlers and fishing boats used for deep-sea fishing as well as for fishing closer to the shore. The number of trawlers anchored were over a hundred in number. Trawlers were usually away at sea for 10-15 days at a stretch and was paid a huge sums of money for their catch.
What was fascinating was the sight of heaps of different varieties of fish that were lying around waiting to be auctioned.There were small, big and medium-sized fish of different shapes and colors. The fish was being sorted, weighed and transferred into plastic crates. This later got loaded onto trucks to different markets as well as were sent to processing units to get exported. Amongst all the buyers and sellers of fish and aggressive negotiations, hundreds of birds of different species fluttered by and were having a gala time trying to sneak a mouthful of fish and feasting on their achievements.
Sassoon Docks is the place to be not only to get fresh fish but the cheapest and the best place to buy in bulk. All in all this educational trip was exhausting but interesting too. It was a first of its kind for me and very enriching as well.