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Fishmonger facts for kids

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Fish on the Quay, Aberaeron - - 1625065
Contemporary fishmonger filleting a fish

A fishmonger is someone who sells fish and seafood. Fishmongers can be wholesalers or retailers. In many places there are fewer fishmongers than there used to be. Supermarkets have often replaced independent seafood sellers. Female fishmongers used to have a separate name, fishwife.

Worshipful Company of Fishmongers

Bartolomeo Passarotti - The fish stall
A 16th fishmongers stall. Bartolomeo Passarotti

The fishmongers guild, was started in the City of London by a Royal Charter from Edward I soon after he became king in 1272. Guild members could not have foreign partners. Selling fish was tightly controlled to make sure it was fresh and to keep profits low. However, the guild grew rich. After Edward's victory over the Scots, they put on a great show, including one thousand mounted knights.

While Edward II was king, the fishmongers lost political power. Parliament made a rule that a fishmonger could not become mayor of the city. This rule was soon canceled, though. The fishmongers guild became richer so that while Edward III was king the guild could give £40 to the war against the French. This was a large amount of money at that time.

The guild was then reformed as the Mystery of the Fishmongers of London. They were the only ones allowed to advertise or sell fish. They also regulated catching fish in the Thames. The river had many fish such as salmon at that time. The guild still continues today as one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies.


A fishmonger prepares to clean and butcher a pair of large fish in Malé
A fishmonger prepares to clean and butcher a pair of large fish in Malé.

The tools used by fishmongers include:

  • Pliers to pull out pinbones
  • A fish scaler to remove scales
  • A filleting knife to cut away the flesh from the bones
  • Short strong knives for opening oysters and other shellfish
  • Protective gloves
  • A curved knife for gutting and removing roe

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