Olhão is the largest fishing port in the Algarve, which may explain why the fish market is the best (probably!) in the Algarve. Open six mornings a week it is irresistible. The best time to visit of course is early in the morning, but even mid/late morning there is great fish to buy.
The first market building opened in 1866 on Avenida 5 October in almost the exact location of the present day buildings. These dates back to the last century, building work commenced in 1912 and the markets were inaugurated in 1916. Whilst more practical than beautiful, they still command attention on the waterfront. It is what is inside though that really counts.
Having said that though I am very aware that the methods to use to catch the fish and the quantity being captured is having a negative impact on our oceans. We have to think and behave differently if our oceans are to remain alive. The Portuguese have a proverb which you might just want to remember next time you go shopping for fish – Nem tudo o que vem à rede é peixe. The literal English translation is ‘not everything that comes to the net is fish’, and the meaning ‘not every opportunity is a good opportunity’. Both are appropriate when it comes to farming the seas, and which probably explains why Greenpeace have been using it in recent years in Portugal to highlight the problem. Not only do nets encourage overfishing but they can kill or damage other species such as dolphins, sharks and even coral. So do think before you buy – is it a sustainable species, and was it caught using sustainable methods? The latter is easy to determine even if you cannot speak Portuguese as in the fish market the good fishmongers clearly indicate source of fish and method of catch.