Awassa Fish Market

875 Reviews

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Things to do


Date of travel

January, 2016

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Ethiopia’s Hawassa fish market is held daily and contrary to my expectations, it wasn’t indoor and wet.

We set off from the “Haile Resort”: on Lake Hawassa at 8am and drove the short distance to the lakeshore and landing area to watch the small wooden fishing boats (each holding two people) come in. They continued to arrive all the time we were there and numbered over 30. The nets are taken out in the evening and collected in the following morning.

Birds flew everywhere and massive marabou storks either waded in the water or paraded along the shore waiting for off cuts of fish. The fish was picked out of the tangled nets and two official looking men with scales and a tape measure stuck on to a piece of wood, weighed and measured the catch of Nile perch, tilapia and catfish. Although it appeared on arrival to be a slightly chaotic affair, the boats were numbered and the weighing and measuring was all being written down.

Once the fish had been removed, young boys unravelled and refolded the nets ready for the evening.

Nearby the fish were being filleted according to its eventual use. Those that were being fried whole, simply had their insides removed and a couple of slits made in their side, whilst others were being fully filleted. We paid 20 birr (60p) for a photograph of a little boy holding a fish.

At the exit were a number of covered shacks where ladies cooked the fish in a variety of ways: frying whole fish and boiling fish soup in large tin pans over a wooden fire. Each shack had a small seating area where the soup was served in blue plastic mugs and eaten with bread. It looked surprisingly good and didn’t smell fishy – it was just a shame we’d had breakfast.

Helen Jackson

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