Our off-shore fleet of the 1950s numbered approximately 150 large vessels fishing from Georges to the
Scene at Ben Pine’s
While we are quick to point to an endangered resource and blame excess governmental regulation for our current fishing demise, there is another basic factor affecting any hoped-for resurgence of
The fish business has changed profoundly because products and marketing methods of the industry have had to respond to modern-day consumer demands. Gone are canned codfish cakes, canned mackerel, layer-pack redfish fillets, and H&G whiting. Today’s sophisticated consumer is demanding more. Our lifestyles have changed also, requiring fish processors to develop an endless array of easily prepared microwaveable products, fast food McDonald’s fish portions, and school lunch programs featuring fish sticks items. Demand for these easily prepared products is immense and the ingredients (domestic fish) are not available in the required volume, at least in
NOW.....That is the history. In short, it’s not the demise of our fish supply alone; it’s also the lifestyle changes we’ve adopted along the way. Our desires and needs are different. While the local fish resource has declined, our way of life has shifted. Soccer moms no longer want their husbands away from home for days and weeks on end, fishing. Kids are instructed to get an education, fishing is over, there’s no future in the business. What was once “a way of life”, processing and fishing jobs on the waterfront, have been replaced and relocated to inland industrial parks, and the Route 128 corridor.
Today’s waterfront is entirely different than in my day. The big off shore boats are gone; the inshore fleet is being regulated out of existence. Fish can be processed almost anywhere and any fresh fish business remaining in
A portion of the Portuguese fishing fleet, circa 1947, at State Fish Pier
Without forward thinking and a demonstrated willingness to accept change, any hope for our harbor’s future prosperity is lost.
F’O’C’S’LE SCUTTLEBUTT; Comments overheard following the last Fort zoning (hotel) hearing. IT’S NOT ABOUT HOTELS; IT’S ABOUT NOT WANTING ANY IMPROVEMENT IN ANY FORM AT THE FORT. Residents fear increasing real estate taxes will result. Any development might disturb the “business as usual – we’ve got ours” status quo mentality. I find this attitude sad, even selfish. When a few residents petition a few grandstanding, ranting, bloviating politicians, it only results in continued economic stagnation at the Fort. If this narrow attitude continues, our larger community of taxpaying citizens will be subsidizing the Fort and the rest of our failing waterfront forever!
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