The market complex opened in 2002, with the aim of creating employment opportunities for coastal communities, ensuring the quality and supply of the food on offer, and generating government revenue. The complex totals over 14,000 square metres, comprising eight different zones along the fish value chain. These include the fish landing zone, the auction hall, the fish preparation area and the fish frying station.
On average, 400 metric tons of fish are landed per month and another 350 metric tons are brought in from other regions. About 13,000 people visit the complex per day. The varieties of species on offer include sardines, emperor fish, tuna, rabbit fish, mackerel, lobster, crab, prawn, squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
At the landing zone, Kidaw Ali, owner of a 10-foot vessel, explained that he makes between USD 50-100 a day from tuna and sardines. Fishing is a volatile occupation, he said, because of the seasonality of work and income. Over time, he added, it has become harder to catch fish due to the increased number of fishers operating in the same area.
Near the "engineering" zone, two men make and repair nets. The sizes of these nets are determined and monitored by the fisheries management office.
After the catch is landed, it is handed over to traders who bargain on behalf of the fisherfolk. The catch is taken to the auction hall where the bidding process takes place.
The catch is then cleaned and filleted at the fish preparation area.
Finally, fresh fish can be bought in bulk while some are consumed on site at the fish frying area.
The complex is administered by the Ilala Municipal Council. Its representatives can be regularly seen in the market complex, including those charged with fisheries management, statistics, accounting, fish quality control, health and engineering.