Fish hawkers say high fuel costs have driven up the price of snoek this Easter

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Fish hawkers in Cape Town say high fuel costs have driven up the price of snoek this Easter. Many of them have to travel far up the West Coast to lay their hands on the Cape delicacy.

Snoek is one of the most popular types of fish used for traditional Good Friday pickled fish dishes.

Served with hot cross buns, pickled fish is a staple for many over the Easter weekend.

By now, most households have already done their frying and pickling and are ready to commemorate Good Friday with the traditional meal.

Others have, however, left it a bit late.

Last-minute fish shopping is in full swing here at the Hout Bay harbour.

Several customers are looking for hake, but sellers say it appears to be scarce this year.

“The people usually coming from two weeks till now, but now it’s the last day, now people are rushing. The people you see standing here it’s for hake but we haven’t got now is kingklip, yellowtail, capebring, hottot and ja that’s all we have now.”

Customers have come from across the city to secure fresh fish.

Tour guide Shai Mkhulungu says businesses owners should empower themselves by getting to know what people enjoy to eat.

“As a tourism official it’s good to empower yourself by doing research, to get to know people, what do people eat during the Good Friday, it’s obvious they like to buy a lot of fish making pickled fish, but they make it different was some people out too much onion on it, some people they put too much sour taste but it comes out good.”

Capetonian Aileen Golding says Easter is not the same without pickled fish

“Easter is not Easter if you don’t have pickled fish and also masala fish and I’m delighted that I found cob because I prefer to do pickled fish with cob, not snoek, a lot of people like to do it with snoek as well.”

Customer Alphonso Matthys says, “We make pickled fish because of the Passover and all those things, with Christ that had passed away that’s why every year we do pickled fish, its a religion for us you know, from Good Friday to the Monday you have pickled fish, right through the weekend.”

For Alan Thomas, a fish hawker for almost 30 years, this Easter has not been as busy as in previous years.
Selling snoek from the back of a bakkie, he says, has its roots in his forebears, who sold fish from the back of horsecarts.

He says with the migration of snoek further up the West Coast, they now have to travel as far as Port Nolloth, for their catch. With record fuel prices, this directly impacts the price they can sell the snoek for.

“Last year, the bakkies were like this because clients did buy you see but now you only sell maybe 70 or 80 fish for the day, but other years you sell your 150 or 200 or 300 fish, but now the people just come, it is Easter, it’s is Easter, but it’s not going about Easter.”

The current price of a snoek ranges beween R240 and R350 each.