Tag Archives: Bloomberg Businessweek

Gloucester Fish War from Bloomberg Businessweek

Hey Joey, I thought GMG readers may want to see this article from the November 22, 2011 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. The Gloucester Daily Times and Richard Gaines are quoted several times.

P.S. Although well written, they should have contacted you for a decent photo!

The Gloucester Fish War

How a small town in Massachusetts destroyed a decade of law enforcement

The bidding starts early at the seafood auction in Gloucester, Mass. Each day about 30 tons of fish—mostly cod, haddock, and flounder—come in by boat on Cape Ann, a fist jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Fishermen motor up to the concrete docks behind the beige-and-white warehouse, then wait while workers in rubber boots hoist their catches and weigh them out on a stainless-steel digital scale. At 4 a.m. grocery store buyers, restaurant owners, and distributors file in to inspect and bid on the haul.

The traders and graders were wrapping up their business just after 9 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2006, when 16 federal agents in Crown Victorias and Ford Expeditions pulled into the parking lot. They entered the building in pairs. Although most of them worked for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they wore bulletproof vests and carried Glock pistols, according to interviews with participants and the NOAA investigative report.

They were looking for the auction’s founder and chief executive officer, a mustached man named Larry Ciulla. When they found him in an office off the auction floor, they officially informed him of their search warrant. They suspected he had illegally bought and sold cod, one of the world’s most valuable, most threatened, and closely watched stocks of fish. The agents were there to seize the auction’s last three years of records and had rented a U-Haul for the mountain of evidence they intended to truck away. In raiding the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction, the largest fish dealer on the Gulf of Maine, which extends from Cape Cod up to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, they hoped to send a message to the fishermen of Gloucester: Overfishing doesn’t pay.

Within minutes the feds herded everyone—longtime auction employees, Central American dockworkers, and three generations of Ciullas—to the auction floor, a high-ceilinged room with rows of folding desks outfitted with laptops. Drivers loading trucks with frosty cod, haddock, and flounder were told to turn off their engines. Restrooms were off-limits for fear papers would get flushed down toilets. While some agents went looking for records, others stood guard at the docks.

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