Fishmongers plan to make a killing over Easter weekend

2016-03-24 14:27
Skipper Robert Gillespie. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Skipper Robert Gillespie. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - One snoek will set you back up to R260 as Cape Town fishmongers cash in on the Easter rush.

Everything from yellowtail to hottentot was proudly displayed at Kalk Bay harbour on Thursday, with charming traders coaxing potential customers to cough up for their steeply priced stock.

In the Western Cape the tradition of making pickled fish for Good Friday creates quite a demand, giving traders the liberty to push up their prices significantly.

- Food24 recipe: Pickled fish

Hawker Mandy Oliver of Retreat said traders expected to make a killing on Thursday.

“Today is payday – everyone’s favourite day of the month,” she laughed.

Traffic was not especially impressive this week, Oliver explained, but it was hoped the numbers would pick up later in the afternoon.

She insisted her prices were “not that bad”, pointing out that this was one time of the year when fishmongers made a decent profit.

“It’s how business works, the higher the demand, the more we can charge. People need to remember we have people to pay. We don’t catch the fish ourselves. We also have families to feed and bills to pay. This is our time.”

The steep price days before Easter was a penalty for those who failed to plan ahead, a cleaner joked.

“As jy nie vir vars vis wil betaal nie, koop maar vir jou ‘n blikkie sardientjies [If you don’t want to pay for fresh fish, buy a can of sardines],” he laughed.

Vanessa Saaiman of Strandfontein said she was shocked when a fishmonger charged her R220 for a “stink snoek”.


“It’s ridiculous. He usually charges me R50. I eventually told my husband to take our kids and his rod and catch us something for me to pickle,” she said.

“He eventually came back with three fishes this size,” Saaiman explained, holding her hands about 30cm apart.

“I made the pickled fish, but it was so little I decided to make seafood paella to go with it because it’s cheaper. It’s becoming too expensive to practice your religion.”

Cherylyn Booysen from Bonteheuwel said she bought her fish from a neighbour who charged R200 for an average-sized snoek.

“It’s a clever way to earn some extra cash. And if you know the seller well, they even allow you to pay it off.”

Her pickled fish had been in the fridge for the past five days to “get all that lekker flavour”.

“My family loves it. They don’t think about it signifying the sacrifice made by Jesus who died for us. For them it’s a treat which I only make once a year.”

Mervyn Frantz gives his stock a rinse. (Tammy Petersen)


Skipper Robert Gillespie, who has been catching fish for the past 30 years, said customers needed to realise there were costs involved in their trade.

“It’s not like sticking your hand in the sea, catching one and selling it to someone. We have levies to pay, staff to reimburse, and licences to cover,” he said.

The catch at Kalk Bay this year was not as impressive as 2015, Gillespie said.

“If there’s a lack of fish, the prices have to be pushed up even more so that the mongers can make a decent profit. However, compared to factory prices, buying fresh from the hawker is still the cheaper option.”

Hawker Mervyn Frantz said fresh fish would always be in demand, no matter what the price.

“But we aren’t here to rip people off. We are only trying to make a living,” he said.

“En watter antie sal nou nee dankie se vir ‘n lekker vars stuk snoek of yellowtail? Nie ons Kaapse mense nie. [And what auntie would say no thank you to a nice piece of snoek or yellowtail? Not our Cape Town people].”

- Food24: 25 fabulous recipes for Easter entertaining

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