Nearly 300 guests basked in warm sunshine into Monday evening as the exciting new waterfront precinct was officially opened by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch.
The development on the historic Sanford site includes eight new restaurants, a courtyard bar and a revamped and renamed retail fishmonger – Sanford and Sons.
Volker’s vision is of a world-renowned market that is a major tourist attraction.
The Sydney fish market was known for shrimps, Seattle for salmon, Tokyo for tuna, he said.
Auckland’s point of difference was its diversity, with over 100 different species.
Blue mackerel was a personal favourite, yet it was unknown to most New Zealanders.
He said everyone could play a part in maintaining a sustainable fishery by moving beyond the top five species.
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said Sanford had become a provider of seafood solutions.
The production of collagen from hoki skins and development of mussel powder were examples of adding value and enhancing the New Zealand brand.
Earlier in the day Nash released a discussion document, titled Your fisheries – your say, aimed at improving fisheries management around returning catch to the sea, offences and penalties, streamlining catch limits and technical changes.
Industry has urged tackling these issues and will fully engage in the process.
Public meetings will be held throughout the country up to Mar 17 when consultation closes.
Simplifying often complex and unclear fishing rules will help improve reporting and compliance and increase incentives for good fishing practice, Fisheries New Zealand said.
Nash said there would eventually be mandatory on-board cameras, but the policy needed to be worked out and would include separate public consultation later this year.
The previous Government had announced the policy without working out the details, Nash said.
"It's not a matter of going down and buying a GoPro, whacking it on a boat, and saying, 'Hey guys, you've got to record your stuff.'
"There's nothing worse than politicians sitting in their ivory towers in Wellington and rolling out a policy that has no basis in reality."
Back at the fish market, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff apologised for lateness, saying he was going to blame the traffic but then somebody would say that was his fault.
He said Auckland needed developments like the fish market to be seen as a world class city.
He recalled the original market was opened in 2004 by then Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Since then the Viaduct Basin had been transformed with the America’s Cup defences, the next due in 2021, and the Wynyard quarter was now under major development.
Sanford chief customer office Andre Gargiulo had been overseeing the fish market project for three years.
He had second thoughts on day one when he found how strong the smell was at the existing premises.
After much money, design work, construction and drainage, the site was a showpiece, a celebration of the fishing industry story.
The aromas are now from the different cuisines on offer.
The firm’s founder, Albert Sanford, began catching and selling fish, mainly kauri-smoked Hauraki Gulf snapper, in 1864 at the old Queen St wharf.
By the early 1900s Sanford Ltd owned more than 20 fish shops in Auckland, serviced by a fleet of modified Fords.
The current Jellicoe St site was established in 1924.
It now houses the Auckland Seafood School, teaching people to prepare and cook fish, and a daily seafood auction.
An online seafood order service, Freshcatch, has also been established, delivering fresh fish to the door just as Sanford and Son did a century ago.