GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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June 6, 2009

Local boats make most of 2-month closures

A local seafood buyer and processor and at least four Cape Ann inshore fishing vessels resorted to Plan Bs to keep working either throughout or during part of the April and May inshore spawning area shutdowns that prohibited commercial groundfishing and drastically ebbed badly-needed regular landings of quality cod, haddock and flounder.

One dragger crew even spent part of the closure replacing a critical piece of deck equipment before it could put its Plan B into action. The four vessels resumed groundfishing Monday.

Iceland to the rescue

Pigeon Cove Whole Foods at the Head of the Harbor had a hard time the past two months getting enough whole haddock, cod and greysole — whitefish — to fill its fillet orders for the more than 50 Whole Foods stores it supplies, primarily throughout the United States.

Usually for those fillets, "we are a producer/processor of (extra-fresh) day boat product," explained Bill Dubin, the Gloucester branch's purchasing team leader. The company gets the bulk of its whitefish most of the year from their own day boats and, when needed, through in- and out-of-town seafood auctions and independent dealers.

Pigeon Cove Whole Foods got around its recent whitefish shortfalls by importing fresh fillets that it repacked and redistributed.

"Iceland produces fresh product (fillets) for our stores," Dubin said.

Whole Foods, like other supermarket chains, lists the country of origin for its seafoods.

Squiding down the Cape

Pigeon Cove Harbor groundfishermen Capt. Paul Theriault and Ryan Osmond didn't let the April and May closures completely idle their 42-foot dragger, Terminator. They fished for squid (Loligo species) out of Hyannis part of May.

Their Plan B, especially for Theriault, the vessel's owner, prevented him from sliding "... into a massive hole that you can't get out of, financially speaking," he explained.

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