Tour guides usually make a stop at the Fujairah Fish Market and it’s not difficult to understand why.
A vibrant atmosphere abounds in the fish souq. There’s a noticeable camaraderie among the workers. Visitors are always curious to find out what’s been caught. There’s often a goodly number of browsers as well as buyers.
It’s generally a man’s world at the markets but local and expat women do come and buy for their homes or restaurant.
The city of Fujairah was established on the fishing industry so in poking around the fish markets you can feel that you’re probing the identity of this eastern emirate.
Expats and tourists often have their cameras ready to capture their memories. Many remark on the size or the types of fish they have never seen before.
Types of Fish
Ask for the name of the fish and you’re more likely to get a reply in Arabic or Urdu rather than in English. A board on the wall lists the name in Arabic and English of the most common fish that are available in the market. At the top of the list it reads ‘sheep head’! This is a type of fish not the head of a sheep. Further down it lists ‘goatfish’.
Lots of Guts
Some fishermen and women arrive in the weekend with fish that they have hooked, preferring the professionals to clean their catch rather than do it themselves. The men at the fish market who scale and clean fish are fast and the cost of this service is very reasonable.
A sign on the board indicates the costs in English and Arabic:
Wage of Cleaning, Scaling and Cutting Fishes in Central Market of Al Gorfa
1.5 Dhs 1 kilo small fishes
5 Dhs 4 kilo small fishes
1 Dh 1 kilo big fishes
4 Dhs 4 kilo big fishes
Cleanliness rather than Conservation
In the last few years there’s been an ongoing campaign to increase and maintain the hygiene standards at the market.
The environmental group, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), published earlier in 2011 a Choose Wisely book (free download) that lists the endangered fish in the UAE waters and encourages people to choose fish that are in good supply. Unfortunately, these resources don’t seem to be available to buyers within the fish market.
Watch the Video on Preserving Fish Species in the UAE
Take a Stand
Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort is one of a growing number of UAE restaurants that have removed from its menus endangered fish species such as Hammour, Kingfish, White Spotted Spinefoot and Sprangled Emperor. The Fujairah resort has replaced these fish with the more sustainable Orange Spotted Trevally, Two Bar Sea Bream, Pink Ear Emperor, Black Streaked Monocle Bream and Ehrenbergs Snapper.
When you go to a restaurant in Fujairah that serves fish, enquire about the type of fish, raise your concern about the use of endangered fish and choose a fish that is in good supply.
Take a Look
Some photos of the Fujairah Fish Market are posted in this photo album.
Choose Wisely, UAE Consumer Guide, EWF-WWF (free download)
The UAE’s Sustainable Fish Cookbook Includes Recipes from Fujairah, FIF, 12 April 2011.
More Fujairah news, info, resources and photos are posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.