Here is a view from the wheelhouse of the Western Venture looking down at the herring net being offloaded from the boat. You can see the net travel up through the boat’s power block, over to the power block on the boom attatched to Swan Net’s truck, and then into the bed of Swan Net’s truck.
The net will then be transported up to the Blackburn Industrial Park where it will be repaired, worked on or stored.
Many traditional seaside business have moved away from the waterfront, like Good Harbor Fillet. With modern advances in the seafood industry like The Gloucester Seafood Display Auction and Power Booms, and the Internet, much less a footprint of Gloucester’s Harbor is actually used for offloading fish compared to when every part of the seafood chain occurred on the waterfront.
At The Gloucester Seafood Display Auction, there are a couple dozen fish buyers who bid on fish in one room. Those buyers in that auction room represent thousands of seafood buyers who buy through them. The Auction handles much of the fish that used to be unloaded at places like Mortillaro’s, Captain Joe’s, John B Wright’s, Old Port Seafood, Fisherman’s Wharf and other piers around town. The Auction and their very advanced electronic bidding system doesn’t even necessitate the buyers be present to purchase that fish.
One of our former customers dropped in to say hi last summer at 7:00AM. He was wearing shorts and sandals. I asked him why he wasn’t busy buying and selling fish. He told me that he had already bid for the fish he needed from home and that the Auction trucks would be delivering the fish he purchased directly to his customers.
He won’t even touch a fish! But that fish is going to get exactly where it is supposed to go. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the seafood industry but even that kinda took a little while to grasp.
My cousin and I and a crew of four guys used to go to the dock at 3:00AM to try to get boats unloaded, the fish packed in ice and on trucks on their way into Boston for the morning markets. Now this guy that I used to sell fish to is getting all that work done without even touching a fish.
Innovations like this and power blocks, the fish being processed at Gortons coming in frozen on trucks instead of boats have occurred throughout the industry but there are many people that have no idea and cling to the idea that the fishing industry operates the same way it did 10, 20 or even 50 years ago think nothing should change at all on the waterfront.