Some of the fish was sold to merchants or fishmongers in local fish-markets, or to cadgers (itinerant pedlars) or fish-wives who took the fish round nearby towns and villages to sell.
Herrings that were sold fresh were described as “green herrings”. However, most of the herrings were purchased by firms of curers, who salted and smoked them to make “red herrings” or pickled them as “white herrings”.
The curers were paid in advance by buyers in the states around the Baltic Sea. From these payments the curers engaged the crews of the fishing boats. The curers agreed to pay a fixed rate for every cran (28 stone in weight) landed from each boat during that season, usually up to a maximum of 200 or 250 crans. In return, the crews were only allowed to supply the curers that had engaged them.
By the end of the 19th century, a collapse in the Baltic credit lines led to the system of curers' engagements being replaced by auctions at the quayside. The fishermen then entered long-term agreements with salesmen who acted for them at the daily auctions. They would be expected to sell the entire catch in return for a 5% commission.