Oh my Cod! My sunrise tour at Brixham Fish Market

Oh my Cod! My sunrise tour at Brixham Fish Market

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Brixham Fish Market is celebrating ten years of sunrise tours. We sent The Shorely’s snap happy Hugh on a Wednesday morning tour to get behind-the-scenes with local fisherman, their catch of the day and to understand more about the workings of this £40m market.


It’s an early start for a glimpse into the world of Brixham Fish Market. We meet at 5.50am in the bustling working harbour with an avid group of friendly fisherman who work at England’s largest fish market - selling in excess of £40m fish every year! Catching over 40 different species of fish including; Cuttlefish, Squid, Monkfish and Turbot.

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Upon arrival at the lower ground Fish Market, it’s time to ditch our usual style and pop on the blue hair net, blue shoe covers and a white lab coat. Little tip for those who prefer their feet not to smell of fish for the rest of the day - wear wellies or old shoes too!

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The tour begins in the main market area where you’re talked through some interesting facts; for example, did you know that many of the skippers are included in a WhatsApp group as part of their job? We didn’t either! This is a great way for the skippers to communicate and share information regarding their date of return from sea, what fish they’ve caught and which areas they have fished.

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Venturing around the lower ground, you can get up close and personal with the awesome Bull Sharks, Sea Bass, Conger Eels and giant Lobsters and all whilst immersed in that icy fresh sea smell! You get to see how the fish are sorted into groups based on their species and weight - showing the process right to the finishing touches where each 40kg box is labelled and detailed ready to be taken to auction for selling. Holding a 40lb fish was a great way of getting hands on and involved with the tour - it was heavier than it looked!

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The tour continues outside the market, where you’re shown the number of trawlers used within the operation - their fleet consists a mix of local day boats and larger trawlers that can remain for 5-7 days at a time. Whilst the skippers are out at sea, they can land as much as up to 80 tons of fish on a busy night! All that graft the fisherman endure is purely to bring the most high quality, fresh produce to the Bay and a huge array of customers across the world.

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Wondering where the fish go? The fish from the market ends up on plates in some of the UK’s most exquisite restaurants. You may have eaten some of Brixham’s finest fish elsewhere and not even realised it came from your home turf; approximately 70% of the fish are exported to many destinations in Europe, such as Holland, France, Spain and Italy.

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Walking along the harbour, we were surprised to come across a couple of cheeky, friendly seals too! We found out they are the fisherman’s ‘pets’ and the seals got very excited when they came up to greet us - you may be lucky enough to see them too during your visit - it’s an extra special moment.

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You’re then head back inside where the tour comes to an end, but it’s not quite over yet! - Feeling hungry? If you haven’t had enough of fish already, you have the opportunity to eat a delicious fish-based breakfast provided by the chefs at the Rockfish restaurant in Brixham. A delicious end to an interesting, vivid tour! Well worth that early morning start.


The Brixham Fish Market Tour costs £15 p/p. The cost of the tour goes towards the breakfast at Rockfish and is a donation towards the Fishermen’s Mission charity. If you’re a local fish buyer, chef or just a regular punter like us that wants to see inside the Fish Market - then this is the tour for you! Email bfmt2014@gmail.com to book your tour. It is recommended that you book in advance as the tours are very popular. Upcoming dates are 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st July 2019.

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