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Attacks Force Fish Market to Move

October 13, 2001

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NEW YORK (AP) _ A world-renowned fish market with $1 billion in annual sales has been struggling in a filthy, cramped parking lot since it was ordered out of its home near the World Trade Center to make room for rescue and relief equipment.

Business has dropped sharply for the Fulton Fish Market in the three weeks since it was relocated to a desolate lot ringed with barbed wire on the banks of the Bronx River. The local union has reported dozens of layoffs; merchants say fish is spoiling.

The temporary location is small, causing a traffic jam of forklifts and drivers honking and swearing as they barely miss each other in the muddied lot. Trucks awaiting deliveries have to park as far as a half mile away in an area of car-part shops and strip clubs. There are no computers or cash registers; the vendors use cell phones to take orders.

The fish glimmer under generator-powered spotlights during the early-morning hours, in a sea of cardboard boxes and tents flanking an abandoned warehouse. A bank of portable toilets serve a market space a third the size of Fulton’s 750,000 square feet.

``I don’t care where I work. We’re just lucky to be alive,″ vendor John Bartocci said.

The vendors are expected to return downtown sometime in the coming week, said Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corp.

Until then, fish are traded as usual, with sellers and customers bargaining to shave pennies off each pound of tuna, swordfish and other seafood from Venezuela, South Africa, the Philippines, Australia, and other parts of the world.

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