The Chioggia wholesale fish market

The current Chioggia wholesale fish market was founded in 1960 on the island of Cantieri, located between the Lusenzo and San Domenico canals, and connected to the bridge over the lagoon which unites the town with the nearby beach area called Sottomarina. The fish market covers approximately 11,000 m2, of which 5,000 m2 are occupied by a central pavilion and two large uncovered areas which are directly supplied with fresh fish by the fishing vessels which dock in the canal ports flanking these areas. In addition to these facilities there are also the fish market administrative offices located right at the entrance of the fish trading area, three large buildings which house the management offices and the cash office. To ensure a full range of services, a bar serving food and drinks, bathroom facilities, meeting room and veterinary and security offices have been added. All told, it’s a highly efficient operation, bustling with staff going about their business.

In order to guarantee the freshness of the products and the best storage facilities, three large areas have been specifically set-up for wholesale ice merchants. Over the years the Chioggia wholesale fish market has become specialised not only in the sale of fresh national products, but also in products which are specialities in foreign markets, thus ensuring that trade based on preserved fish, frozen and deep-frozen products which can be processed, transformed, packaged, smoked and dried, has developed at a rapid pace. These notable characteristics make the Chioggia wholesale fish market one of the most important fish stocking, trading and processing centres. Every single day at the market two auctions take place, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The internal administration system means that suppliers and fishermen can immediately cash-in their sales transactions.

The wholesale market is principally for merchants and small/medium sized producers; members of the public may not participate in the auctions. The efficiency of the Chioggia wholesale fish market is based on the speed at which goods can be moved within the area reserved for the storage of fish and shellfish. There is a multitude of staff who work frantically to ensure that healthy fish with the correct sensory (physical and chemical) attributes reach the buyer. The internal process is regulated by close monitoring and by a team of vets charged with checking the health of the fish and judging whether or not they are fit for sale. Finally, there are 45 mini-warehouses which are available to each individual trader who thus have access to modern systems for storage and stockage.

The Chioggia wholesale fish market is important on a national scale and not only for its strategic location, with both a lagoon and the open sea to hand which permit diverse fishing techniques, plus an actual breeding farm for bivalve shellfish. The fixed-location fishing nets, trawling nets, “cogoli” nets, “turbosoffianti” boats and net dragging are just some of the many ways used to bring in fish catches. It all goes to show what a deep-rooted tradition fishing is in this region called “Il Veneto”, rich in so many fish varieties, and rich too in terms of quantity.