Construction starts on $15m Auckland Fish Market
Construction starts on
Auckland Fish Market complex
Auckland’s Mayor John Banks today welcomed the start of construction on the new Auckland Fish Market, a $15 million development which will house New Zealand’s first daily, electronic fish auction, seafood cookery school and associated wholesale and retail seafood industry amenities.
Modeled on the popular Sydney Fish Market, the new complex is being built on a site bounded by Jellicoe, Madden and Daldy Streets, near the fishing industry wharves.
The site adjoins the headquarters and Auckland processing plant of one of New Zealand’s leading seafood companies, Sanford Limited, which today unveiled its latest plans for the complex at a commencement ceremony before the Mayor and industry guests.
“This new fish market will provide a public face for our industry in Auckland,” Sanford’s Managing Director, Eric Barratt, told the function. “We see this initiative as a joint industry development, which will benefit not only fishing companies, but also seafood wholesalers, retailers and their customers including the general public.”
While Sanford is taking the lead in developing the complex, and will retain ownership of the building, a new company, Auckland Fish Market Ltd, will operate the fish auction and seafood school. Several other major fishing companies are expected to join Sanford as shareholders in AFM.
To make way for the complex, Sanford demolished its old Auckland fish processing plant and associated cold stores, and has also changed its office set-up. A new, much more efficient processing plant has been built to one side of the site.
John Banks congratulated Sanford on its initiative in not just bringing together the fishing industry, but also bringing new life to an area of the Western Reclamation that was overdue for imaginative redevelopment.
“Anyone who has seen the Sydney Fish Market, or Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco, will appreciate the huge potential of the Auckland Fish Market, “ Mr Banks said. “This exciting development will certainly enhance New Zealand seafood’s top quality reputation.”
Designed by Ignite architects, and being built by project manager Arrow International, the two-storey complex will include 132 carparks, including 70 at ground level, to cater for tenants, fish sellers and buyers.
When construction is completed about the middle of 2004, the auction room will have seating and desks for some 85 buyers, looking out over an auction floor that can accommodate almost 500 fish bins to cater for all sorts of seafood species and lot numbers.
Each desk is linked to an electronic bidding system, known as a Dutch auction. When buyers register, they receive a personal identification number which they use to log in an identify themselves when bidding on the electronic keypads at each desk.
The Dutch auction involves a large bidding “clock” which runs backwards. It is a silent auction with the description of the lot displayed on the clock. At Sydney, the auctioneer usually starts the clock about A$2 above the price per kilo each lot is expected to receive, and the price drops every three seconds until it is stopped by a buyer entering a bid on his or her keypad. The buyer’s name appears on the clock to confirm the price and quantity of the transaction.
If the buyer has not bought all the crates in the lot, the auctioneer starts the sale process again, this time A50 cents above the price just paid, and the clock falls again until another buyer stops the clock by bidding.
Buyers collect their invoices from automated teller machines, and those invoices show the exact location of the crates on the auction floor. The buyers then simply present the invoices to collect their crates and proceed to the large despatch area.
In Sydney, up to 1,000 crates, holding an average of 23kg of fish, are sold each hour, and Sydney processes about 2,700 crates each morning.
Like Sydney, the Auckland Fish Market will offer a phone and internet fish price system for suppliers, giving them up to the minute information on prices for their own products and also general prices.
Fronting Madden Street, the auction facility will include a public viewing gallery with seating for 40 people, as well as rest areas for buyers and sellers. It will be linked by covered walkways through a courtyard area to new retail and wholesale areas fronting Jellicoe and Daldy Sts.
That part of the complex has 1,065 square metres of retail floor space, 210 square metres for wholesale, and 1,463 square metres of office floor space spread over three levels.
“We envisage these areas being
used by seafood retailers and wholesalers, while the office
spaces will appeal to firms connected with the fishing or
marine industries,” Eric Barratt said.
The new seafood cookery school will provide tiered, theatre-style seating for 66. Apart from running cooking demonstrations and lectures, the school will have eight separate cooking stations so it can provide practical, hands-on training for young chefs, culinary enthusiasts or the general public.
Asked about future plans, Eric Barratt said the new fish market was expected over time to become something of a public drawcard. As its popularity grew, he could anticipate future demand for more seafood restaurants and cafes in the harbour-side area.
“Our first stage plans do not include any restaurants at this time. But it’s certainly possible that future stages could well include some harbour-side facilities of that nature as zoning of the area changes,” Eric said.
Meantime, industry representatives have welcomed the new development.
“This is the best concept I have heard in my more than 20 years involvement in the seafood industry,” said Mike Laird, Managing Director of Oceanic Foods, and a fish retailers’ representative on the Fishing Industry Board for the last six years.
“The Auckland Fish Market has been spoken about for a long time, and to see a group of companies striving to attain this idea is nothing short of a miracle for me.
“This concept far exceeds my expectations as the reality will be at the end of the day New Zealanders will learn to appreciate the excellent quality and variety of fish and aquaculture this nation has to offer.
“For the small fish shops, it will mean competition for buying fish will at last be on a level playing field, rather than being reliant on one or two suppliers. The competition will be healthy for all, and quality can only get better. At last chefs will be able to get what they really want, not just what one supplier has to offer.
“I think people will flock to the tourist attraction created by the market, and the New Zealand Seafood School will only enhance the image of New Zealand seafood in general,” Mr Laird said.
Comments from other fishing industry leaders on the new Auckland Fish Market include:
Executive Secretary of the NZ Fishing Industry Guild:
“I think the establishment of the Auckland Fish Market will bring an even greater professionalism into the industry. Sanford crews form a high percentage of our Guild’s Auckland members and I see the new fish market as providing an opportunity for these fishers to see where their product goes. The Guild fully supports the effort of Sanford Limited and congratulates all those involved in establishing such an innovative new enterprise will undoubtedly prove to be a tremendous asset to the fishing industry in years to come.”
Dave McIntosh, Executive Member, Auckland Inshore Fishermen’s Association:
“This should have happened 25 years ago. The new fish market will benefit all fishermen, who will no longer have to go around cap in hand to different buyers in trying to sell their fish. With the new market, most buyers will all be in one place. There will also be benefits for buyers, as they will see the full range of product available that day, and can pick and choose what they want. This extra competition will see more attention paid to product quality by both buyers and sellers. Good quality fish will attract good prices, while poorer quality lines will draw cheaper prices. This extra focus on quality and choice will also benefit end consumers. Overall, the new market should certainly help enhance the popularity of seafood in New Zealand.”
Dave Sharp, Chairman, New Zealand Seafood Industry Council:
“The Auckland Fish Market represents an important step forward for New Zealand’s seafood industry. While the auction market will primarily serve the Auckland region, the associated seafood school will draw people from many parts of the country and in time become something of a tourism drawcard. I believe this will be a world-class facility which can only help enhance the international reputation of New Zealand’s fishing industry for top quality, sustainable seafood products. Seafood is becoming an increasingly important source of protein around the world and in New Zealand, where its health advantages are becoming increasingly recognised. The new Auckland market and seafood school will help ensure those advantages become even better known among our multi-cultural society, encouraging consumers to try different ways of preparing seafood. The Seafood Industry Council congratulates Sanford and its partners on taking this initiative, and we look forward to its success.”