Auction Market: Spring Tides on Land

Auction Market: Spring Tides on Land
Auction Market: Spring Tides on Land
Before dawn, the auction market is already buzzing with life.

It is still dark, and artisanal fishing boats and trawlers unload hundreds of boxes of freshly caught fish to be added to the bustling auction shortly thereafter. Sea bass, sardines, swordfish, octopus, horse mackerel, squid, meagre... will soon appear on a luxury catwalk offered by the sea. 

The first rays of sunlight, or sometimes just the faintest light that forecasts a grey, cold day make the buyers come to the auction market, eager for the best fish. Those who have seen this hustle and bustle know that the many hours spent at sea motivate those who spend many hours on land to arrive early at the auction. The luxury of antiques, art, collections, books, and decorative objects snapped up at auction is not very different from the luxury of grabbing an absolutely fresh fish with clear eyes and shiny skin at the fish auction. Both generate immense pleasure, because defining the value of a luxury asset precisely is not just about financial calculations; at the fish auction, there is a lot of emotional mathematics at play.

Here, the auction is held in reverse: the auctioneer starts by declaring the maximum price and buyers risk their bids, remote control in hand, for lower amounts in a game of nerves caused by the possibility of losing the lot to a less ambitious buyer. In past times, and almost imperceptible to those less accustomed to the process but clear as a bell to those who experienced it daily, the auctioneer handled batches of fish attributing the sale to the bidder who approached with the closest price, shouting “shush!” with determination to pitch the batch.

Today, the sale is made using technology with screens that state the batch, the vessel, the fish, the weight, and the number of crates, or through applications that enable the digital sale of the fish while still at sea and that allow a traceability on the origin and provenance of the fish. This evolution has taken away some of its charm, but kept it bustling and lent it rigour. Still, the competing voices, the parade of fish crates, and the dream destination of the grill, oven or pan are a luxury that keeps the hustle and bustle alive. Fresh or just as tasty in Comur preserves, the fish leaves the auction with its fate set out.

The day is well along and the fish auction is preparing for its next session. No rest here – these are spring tides in the making.
Mar 2020 | Portugal 2020
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