Corniche fish market a huge draw

 21 Sep 2016 - 2:17

Customers at the fish market on the Corniche. (Pic: Baher Amin / The Peninsula)


By Irfan Bukhari 
DOHA: If you want to enjoy toothsome fresh fish tonight without being deceived by a fishy sale and purchase deal, the small yet tidy fish stalls located on the Doha Corniche should be your number one choice.
Once the stalls operating under canopy of sky have now been provided purpose-built shades that provide extra comfort to customers and fish mongers by saving them from scorching sunlight during morning business hours. 
“Observe the gills and retina of eyes of fish carefully. It indicates its freshness or otherwise. If the gill is red and has not turned white, it shows its freshness. In the same manner a whitish retina of fish eyes points out its spoilage,” said Mathi, a fisherman cum fish-monger selling fresh fish at Corniche fish-stall.
The salesman is not alone in testifying in favour of fish’s freshness. Meet Saalik, a regular customer of the mini market who says that he visits the market once a week. 
“I prefer buying fish from here due to its freshness although the fish available at central fish market is cheaper,” said Saalik, who hails from the southern Indian town of Chennai.
Most of the people visiting Corniche fish-market were demanding Safi (White-spotted spine foot) particularly Qataris and other Arab customers. At Mathi’s stall, only Qurqufan (Haffara seabream) fish was available yesterday morning.
“Due to strong winds last night and early morning, we could not catch new stocks,” he said. He was selling Qurqufan fish at the rate of QR10 per kg while every customer was haggling for bringing the price down.

Mathi after initial reluctance brought the price down on the condition of buying at least 2kg of fish. Saalik bought 4kg for QR30 while another customer could not avail of the discount as he had to buy only 1kg. 

According to Mathi, people like Safi because it is tasty and has less bones. “It has only one bone and no scales, so people prefer it,” he said. 
The mini fish market has 30 stalls, of which nine have been shifted to Al Wakrah beach. Shahid, another fish-lover from Bangladesh, had come to the market from the Industrial Area in search of fresh fish. “I always find fresh fish here,” he told The Peninsula.
Shahid lives along with three compatriot industrial workers in a rented room near the Industrial Area. He said his fish cooking skills are liked by his roommates. 
The Peninsula observed that Sheirii (Spangled emperor), Safi and Hamour (Orange-spotted grouper) sell like hotcakes.
“Safi sells at the rate of QR30-QR35 a kg and Sheirii at QR20. The small-sized Sheirii is sold at QR10,” said a salesman, adding some cheaper varieties of fish were also available at QR3 to QR5 a kg. Discount is a normal practice there but Saalik said: “These salesmen give more discounts to citizens.”
As Safi was in short supply, a few Qatari women left without buying Qurqufan. Another Arabic-speaking customer demanded big-sized Qurqufan, repeatedly saying, “kabeer, kabeer.” Everything was clean and tidy on and around the dock that provides platform for the market, maintaining Qatari standards. 
“We cannot keep and sell freshly-caught fish beyond two days. After that we have two options — to send it to central fish market for sale provided it is not rotten or discard the stocks if the fish starts emanating sour, ammonia-like stench,” another fisherman said. “A doctor frequently visits the stalls to check stocks.”
As per the rules, traders across the country are not allowed to stock fish for more than three days and sell.
These fishermen get QR1,000 to QR1,200 monthly salary. “Men with 15-year experience get around QR1,800 to QR2,000,” said a fisherman, adding he lives in a room with 10 more fishermen. 
“The owners of these stalls are licensed citizens. All those who work here are employees,” he added.

The Peninsula