It’s not like it used to be along the docks and wharves of Gloucester, where the city’s heralded commercial fishing fleet has spent more than three centuries harvesting the seas.
In the old days, the sense of anticipation and excitement was palpable up and down the waterfront, as springtime — and the fish — beckoned. Boats were scraped and painted, nets darned and repaired and the gear returned to working order. Winter, it seemed, was shrugged off like an old coat.
“There was a real excitement about getting back to work,” said Vito Giacalone, who grew up a fisherman and now serves as policy director for the Northeast Seafood Coalition. “You knew you were going to get back out on the water and were about to get in some solid days of fishing. There was a buzz and you just don’t hear that kind of buzz anymore.”
The docks were quiet under Wednesday’s gray and raw skies, with little of the wide-scale activity that used to mark the ramp-up to the season. Not like it used to be.
The truth is, this is a very different Gloucester fleet from its predecessors, with those differences steeped in the decline in the numbers of boats and fishermen plying their trade, but also in the size, range and complexion of the current fleet.