Jonas Wickstrand, whose family have been selling fish in the city's iconic Feskekörka, or “Fish Church”, since 1954, launched the Rädda Feskekörka group on Facebook on Friday, a day after the city's municipal property company Higab announced that it was closing the market pending an “investigation of its future development”.
“I am worried,” Wickstrand told Sweden's TT news wire. “We haven't been given any information at all. I have no idea what their thinking is. We've been completely excluded.”
The market, which was opened in 1874 with a striking church-like design by city architect Victor von Gegerfelt, is a major draw for tourists, ranked second on the TripAdvisor website for 'Shopping in Gothenburg'.
Johan Carlsson, who leads Higab, on Friday refused to confirm that the building would return to being a fish market after the planned renovation.
“It's hard to say at the moment, but the building lives and breathes fish, so we will bear that in mind in our work,” he told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT.
Jonas Wickstrand preparing fish at his stall in Feskekörka. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall / TT
In a press release on Thursday Higab announced that the market would at the start of next year, but it was vague on the question of which future uses it was considering for the building.
“The goal is to create the conditions for a business which, while respecting the building's cultural and historical significance, can create as much value as possible for the building's operators, Higab and Gothenburg City,” it said.
It gave no firm estimate of how long the planned renovation might take, saying only it would include “the first half of 2020 and then so long as the building work continues”.
While he is in favour of renovating the building, Wickstrand said he feared that the city now planned to push the fishmongers out for good.
“Feskekörka is a symbol of Gothenburg,” he said. “It's the oldest building which is still used for the same purpose for which it was created.”