Who are these men (because yes, it is still an exclusively male job, by superstition) who brave the waves in the middle of the night?
The life of a fisherman on a trawler is not easy. The days are long and start at 2 a.m. It's pitch black. At sea for 12 hours, the sailors throw, tow and haul in the net several times and in the meantime they sort, rinse and glaze the fish. Careful organization. The pace is brisk and living conditions on board depend on the weather.
It is 3 p.m. when the ship finally docks, followed by a flock of gulls. At the dock, a few elders lend a hand to unload the catch. It's time for the auction. However, the day is not over for the crew who must clean the boat and prepare the equipment for the next day.
Challenging conditions repeated 5 days a week, 173 days a year (number of fishing days authorized per year; regulations are increasingly restrictive).
The remuneration system for fishermen has been the same since the 19th century. Their salary is calculated from the turnover achieved during the sale. Even if they target the most profitable species, trawling is a lottery. When the sea is good and the selling price of fish is high, the pay is good.
Even in retirement, many of them still come to help because the profession of fisherman is still often passed down from father to son. A passion that cannot be improvised!
The Grau d’Agde auction is the only French auction in the Mediterranean basin open to the public.
The Belvédère offers tours to discover behind the scenes of the fish auction, its fishing fleet, its facilities, its operation... Led by enthusiasts, the visit will help you discover all the stages that bring the fish from the sea to your plate. You will experience the art of auction sales! An experience at the heart of the activity.
Just 10km from your campsite in Vias Plage, discover this profession of passion and attend a live sale behind the bay windows of the Belvédère.
Prices: €7/adult (12 years and over) - €6/child (6 to 11 years inclusive) Free for under 6s
Two guided tours per day (Monday to Friday):
10 a.m. – Behind the scenes of fishing
3 p.m. – The open outcry auction
Its role consists of auctioning fresh products landed by fishermen for professional buyers. In the past, auctions were given by voice, hence the term “auction”.
Sales have not been able to escape the IT revolution. At a single glance, the crier assesses the price of the bin (based on supply, demand and product quality) and taps out the information of the lot (name of the boat, species, size, weight, freshness). Buyers sit on stands and watch the boxes of fish pass by. Remote control in hand, the fastest wins.
A show usually reserved for professionals. It’s very impressive because everything goes very quickly, the boxes pass along the conveyor, the buyers are bustling around, you have to have a good eye and be very quick to win the bet!
Several tonnes of fish traded in less than 3 hours. Bidding goes downhill. If several people press at the same time, there is a “collision”, then the bids start to rise again.
Fish traders (wholesalers), specialized fish restaurants, fishmongers, supermarkets, and brokers come to stock up at the auction. Internet buyers, particularly Italian and Spanish, participate in the auctions in real time. This distance selling system made it possible to reduce unsold items from 15% to 0.2%.
The trawlers fish large volumes, between 700 kg and one tonne per day. Small businesses (boats less than 18 meters) land more targeted species in small quantities and choose to sell directly at the outer port. from Cap d'Agde or through the auction.
Why are the auctions only located in the Gulf of Lion (Grau du Roi, Sète, Grau d'Agde and Port la Nouvelle)? Because the sandy and shallow seabed of the Gulf of Lion allows trawl fishing. Trailed nets are incompatible with the rocky bottoms and excessively deep areas, characteristic of the PACA region.
Some figures, the Grau d'Agde auction in 2022 is:
1,348 tonnes of seafood sold at auction
7.58 million euros
2 tuna seiners
107 small trades
And much more about your campsite at Vias Plage and our Occitanie / Mediterranean region.