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The recent heat wave in the region has brought an olfactory offense to Tijuana’s largest wholesale fish market, located on Calle Sexta (6th Street), about seven blocks east of Avenida Revolución. The odor permeates the surrounding neighborhood, much to the chagrin of residents and businesses (other than the fishmongers).

The open-air markets are the delivery point of “fresh-caught” fish, trucked in from points all over the Baja coast. The fish are brought in on ice and displayed on ice in the markets, where they are purchased by residents and restaurants. All manner of seafood is presented, including shellfish. Many of the fish are cleaned at the markets, the entrails left for garbage pickup in disposal bins placed throughout the district.

 A story in Frontera referred to the foul smells as the result of “descomposición de residuos orgánicos” (the decomposition of organic residues), and a visit to the area last week gave proof to the notion that “something is rotten in TJ.” This, despite the fact that garbage trucks come by at least three times a day for pick-up. Some complainers believe that it is the movement of the garbage trucks through the neighborhood that spreads the stench.

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David Dodd Aug. 20, 2012 @ 3:44 p.m.

What was it that Shakespeare said about a rose smelling so sweet? Complainers complain. The rest of us eat fresh fish.


Visduh Aug. 20, 2012 @ 8:08 p.m.

Maybe if TJ could join the 20th century and use refrigeration those odors would be less noxious. Trying to do it all with ice is a formula for failure. I haven't experienced the TJ fishmarket, but did get a good dose of what they had in Vietnam, and I can only imagine. Be glad that this sort of weather isn't a year-round feature.


julianrpe July 1, 2013 @ 7:07 p.m.

What a stupid comment on a stupid article. Does that mean New York City needs to join the 20th century, b/c they have fish markets in midtown that are on ice & in case you weren't being flip, the TJ markets have ample refrigeration. Perhaps you should experience the TJ fishmarket before posting ignorant musings, b/c I've found some of the highest quality seafood in all of North America there.


Javajoe25 Aug. 20, 2012 @ 10:36 p.m.

And the fact that the fish market in TJ smells is considered newsworthy because.....?

What I smell is racism. Now that really stinks.

TB, (and The Reader) this is the best you could find to report on concerning TJ and Mexico in general?

You want to write about places with foul odors? How about the public restrooms throughout San Diego? Now there is a wretched stench if there ever was one. Why don't you write about that?

Why the acidic comments? Because I just don't like people who take cheap shots at cities and/or countries that are doing the best they can with what they have.


David Dodd Aug. 21, 2012 @ 12:51 p.m.

Racism? Hey, the fish markets on the East end of Calle Sexta have always been a source of controversy here. Fishism, perhaps, but nothing to do with race. Personally, I love the smell, but some here complain and complain. That makes it news-worthy.


Ian Pike Aug. 21, 2012 @ 1:47 p.m.

I find that people are often offended by the stench of fish markets. It inspires fear of a foodborne illness pandemic that would be more at home in 17th-18th century London, pretty much regarded as the least sanitary place in history.

Nobody wants the fish to stink because it reminds us of how badly food can mess us up when things go wrong. The fact that the smell is from entrails and other waste, and not from the salable fishes, is pretty much immaterial.

Of course, there's always the apocryphal story that Tony Bourdain related in one of his books (I think it was K.C.) about going to a massive fish market in Tokyo. He reported that it didn't stink, unlike every other fish market in the whole world. Was this actually the truth or just him taking artistic license that most of us won't be able to confirm or deny any time soon? I don't know, but it goes to show that fish market smell is a universal point of contention.


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