May 18

Tuesday, May 18th

Hi everyone!!
Today was our first “full” day abroad in Sydney and we all seemed to have a great time. We started our day at the Sydney Fish Market at 6:50 am. We were given a tour of the market by Greg, a fish expert who knew a lot about catching, buying and selling fish in a sustainable way. He was very enthusiastic about how the Sydney Fish Market (second largest in the world after Japan) used sustainable practices to buy fish from fishermen and women and sell it back to buyers from all over.
Much has changed in terms of fishing and the environment due to a greater awareness of the environment and how we as humans are affecting it. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 initiative, which aims to create a more sustainable environment throughout Sydney through solar power, housing and mass transportation changes, has definitely influenced how fishing is approached today. For instance, Ocean Watch is a non-profit organization established to look after the ocean environment.
The group collaborated with the Market, businesses, and fishers to create different regulations such as requiring permits to purchase the quota right to go out and buy certain fish. Greg also said that fisheries officers established under this plan can go onto any fishing boat and confiscate any fish that may have been caught through illegal practice. For example, catching crabs that are carrying eggs is illegal and these crabs cannot be sold.
Education also plays a role in the plan. With the increase in the interest of seafood, fishing, and sustainable fish products, increasing stress has been placed on popular species of fish, such as Red Snapper and Tuna. the Sydney Fish Market decided to open the Sydney Seafood School, which is the largest seafood school in the Southern Hemisphere, to help educate the public about alternative species of fish and how to prepare them. Greg said that many celebrity chefs have come through the school and taught classes. The most popular class is the BBQ Seafood class.
The fish sold at the market are sold through the Dutch Auction System. This system uses a “backwards” system where the price starts higher than the actual value and decreases until someone chooses to purchase the fish or bin of fish. About two to three auctions are held at a time. The most expensive fish are auctioned off first so that they are in the best condition possible when sold.
In terms of freshness, Greg explained to our group that fresh simply means “not frozen.” Once the fish come in on the loading dock they are immediately inspected for temperature, size, color and the quality that they are expected to be in. No buyer or seller knows exactly how long ago the fish being auctioned were caught. However, signs such as color, smell, gill color and slime can help a buyer determine whether or not the fish is good quality. Many buyers get to know their fishermen and can assume whether or not the fisherman catches and sells a good quality product.
Certain tactics such as changing the names of fish that were originally considered “low-class” have definitely increased what fish are bought today. Other fish that were never popular, such as sting rays, are now popular because of newer cooking methods and opportunities like the Sydney Seafood School. Greg said that snapper is the most popular fish in Australia and is used in many dishes. Fish consumption in general is also on the rise in this country.
After the fish market, we were separated into four separate teams for the scavenger hunt around Sydney. It pretty much rained all day, but everyone had a good time and we saw the entire city during our scavenger hunt. We all saw famous landmarks including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower and the Australian Museum. We got to spend time in the museum and learn about Australia’s history and native animal species. My team lost all of the clues at the end, so we didn’t win.
The scavenger hunt led us to the Australian Hotel, which is a popular restaurant. The Australian Hotel staff was very friendly and we all tried crocodile, pumpkin, kangaroo and emu pizza for the first time. The some students also met with a James Madison/MSU alumni, Wendy Adams, to discuss her work and career here in Australia.
Overall we had a really fun time looking around Sydney together, despite the downpour.


  1. Very Informative, will follow blogs daily.

  2. Love the blog and being able to follow your adventures!
    Have the time of your lives!
    Love you, Libby!!!

  3. How exciting, the meal sounds interesting, not sure we will be adding those items to the menu here at home. Love these blogs, what a great way to stay in touch and travel along with you.
    Love you Jenna…..

  4. Meal sounds interesting, how was it? Have yhou had a chance to try any local coctails? Have a great time! Love you Did.:)

  5. The Seafood Market is a great addition to the trip! Did you discuss the fragility of ocean ecosystems and what impact fish population crashes would have on Sydney or even Austraila’s economy? What insight does this give you about the dangers of the ecological embeddedness of our society?

  6. Thanks everyone for responding! The meal at the Australian Hotel was actually really good. Kangaroo has a unique taste but almost everyone liked trying it.
    The Seafood Market was definitely worth going to. Our guide was pretty informed about how fishing in Australia was affecting the environment in both negative and positive ways. He also gave us a good idea about how newer regulations will be able to hopefully save some of the ecosystems and fish species. He definitely touched on how certain fish are endangered and regulations need to be placed in order to make sure the fishing environment remains sustainable. Without fishing, Australia would be losing a huge amount of profit. Not only does Australia have easy access to fish due to its location, but it also has the second largest fish market in the world that needs to continue to profit. If the Sydney Fish Market can’t supply the demand because the fish are no longer available, economic sustainability will definitely be impossible. Greg (our tour guide) helped give us an idea of how dependent we are on the environment but also how dependent it is on us. Australia will have trouble being economically sustainable if the country fails to maintain a sustainable ecosystem in the sea.

  7. We also realized during our tour, that despite that the efforts to conserve fish populations and ecosystems the fish market is not perfect. One of us asked Greg how much ice they go through on a given day. He was unable to give us an exact number however, it was obvious they go through a lot. And after the fish we’re taken from the ice that ice was melted causing quite the waste in water. Despite, the one setback it was quite the informative stop in our trip.

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