“When The Fish Came First”: 40 Years of Fishing in Gloucester, MA

by Owen James Burke


Photo: Nubar Alexanian.

During the 1970s, Gloucester, Massachusetts was at the epicenter of New England’s commercial fishery, where millions of pounds of fish were hauled in each day. It was where the bulk of the nation’s tuna, cod, and myriad other iconic table-faring species came ashore and made their way aboard trains, plains and into lorry beds around the nation and, eventually the world, which is a likely reason for the industry’s more recent demise.


Photo: Nubar Alexanian.

In 1971, a 21-year-old would-be photographer named Nubar Alexanian visited Gloucester. Eventually, he moved there, where he would go on to spend about 10 seasons photographing Gloucestermen at work, on- and offshore.


Photo: Nubar Alexanian.

The exhibit, says Karen Ristuben, president of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, “…is the most comprehensive contemporary document of commercial fishing in New England before its steep decline.”

“When the Fish Came First” is on show at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester, Massachusetts until this Sunday. Stop in to see it if you have the chance! Also, read a Q+A with Alexanian and the Gloucester Times-OJB

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