The fish and fishing boats are fewer and farther between, but the media fascination with the nation’s oldest, imperiled industry is spawning like guppies.
In addition to “Wicked Tuna,” back for its second season on National Geographic TV, this fall’s small screen lineup includes a miniseries on the History Channel called “Nor’easter Men.”
The three-hour documentary follows four draggers out of New England ports, including one from Gloucester, Capt. Gus Sanfilippo’s 80-foot fishing vessel Lily Jean. The program debuts this Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight.
“Gloucester, New Bedford and Portland are beacons in fishing history,” says the show’s publicity material from A&E Networks. “Today’s fishermen who venture into the North Atlantic compete to reel in the biggest catches and largest paychecks. ‘Nor’easter Men’ follows the lives of rival New England crews as they brave storms, cold and exhaustion to bring their catch to market and mark their place in history.”
Filmed over the course of seven or eight days in December and January aboard the Lily Jean, which is named for Sanfilippo’s daughter, and at his home, the Gloucestermen’s portion of the show will also talk about “the dangers of regulation,” said Sanfilippo.
The two cameramen who accompanied the crew “asked us to do a couple of things, but there was no script,” said crew member Sal Ciolino, “and they didn’t try to make us do anything that might get us hurt.
“But that time of year, we had some good weathers,” he added, meaning rough seas, “and it was real cold. All you can see of me is my eyeballs.”
Haddock, a favorite catch, was not plentiful, said Sanfilippo, but there were enough pollock and redfish to make the trip worthwhile. Ciolino said he estimated they hauled in about 30,000 pounds, which would sell at auction for somewhat under $1 per pound. Net proceeds — so to speak — were split among the captain and three crewmen, which included Robert Martinez and Andrew McComiskey.
The captain is throwing a party at The Gloucester House for neighbors who want to see the premiere Thursday night; he said all are welcome.
Nancy Gaines is a regular Times correspondent and and a longtime writer and editor with Boston-based and national publications.