A year ago? No way. But in this, the springish winter of 2015-16, a late-afternoon February photo shoot along the docks at St. Peter’s Square and around the bend of Harbor Cove near Felicia’s Oil wasn’t all that much of a challenge.
So, with the sun shining Wednesday afternoon and the temperatures hovering near 50 degrees, Gloucester Economic Development Director Sal Di Stefano accompanied his merry band of fishermen to their boats tied up along the waterfront so they could make like Mrs. Brady for the camera.
“Come on Mark, work it,” Di Stefano called to Mark Ring as the Gloucester lobsterman posed on his boat, the Stanley Thomas, for Sperling Interactive photographer Coco Boardman, who is part of the effort to tell the stories of local fishermen. “Where’s that intensity?”
The photos and the interviews with Ring, Al Cottone, Joe Orlando, Scott Swicker, Joe Randazzo and Vincent Taormina are to be posted on the city’s new website promoting its Gloucester Fresh seafood branding campaign.
That website, set to launch at the beginning of the upcoming Seafood Expo North America in Boston (March 6-8), is an integral piece of the city’s efforts to tell the Gloucester story to the planet’s seafood-consuming public.
“The campaign is an aggressive outreach program to promote our seafood, our fishermen and our city to the world,” Di Stefano said.
The city is working with Salem-based Sperling Interactive to build the website, which will remain up and running even after the close of the international seafood show, which draws thousands of seafood processors, buyers, sellers and other stakeholders from all over the world each year.
For the second consecutive year, Gloucester will operate its own booth at the show. This year, however, that booth will be much larger and feature a number of networking and marketing features to help the city and its seafood industry sell what Gloucester has to offer.
The syllabus includes the highly popular serving of the redfish soup per the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association’s cookbook recipe and a networking reception featuring the craft beers of Cape Ann Brewery. There will be other networking opportunities for Gloucester businesses. They can reserve a free meeting space — and get a free ticket to the show — to meet with potential business partners, as well as a luncheon reception March 7 at The Gloucester House Restaurant for visiting seafood buyers and processors from around the globe.
Much of the city’s overture is built around the Gloucester Fresh marketing brand designed to elevate the profile of the city and the sustainability of its seafood harvest.
“When we’re promoting our seafood, we’re also promoting our city in terms of tourism, recreational boating and other vital economic resources,” Di Stefano said.
The sun that had shone so brightly was on the wane to the west and the moon already had risen in the east by the time the group ventured over to the south side of Harbor Cove, where Cottone ties up his F/V Sabrina Maria, and Randazzo and Taormina dock their boats, F/V Razzo and F/V Miss Sandy, respectively, as well.
“You’ve got this modeling thing down,” Boardman said to a somewhat pained Al Cottone as he stood next to his boat and was the very image of man clearly more comfortable catching and selling his fish than selling an image.
But this is what it has come to for the dwindling members of the city’s once-proud groundfish fleet. It’s all hands on deck for whatever task might help mitigate the damage generated by the ongoing fishing disaster, whether it’s attending fishery management meetings, sitting for interviews with media and documentary filmmakers or pitching in on a city marketing campaign.
Still, it was not lost on Orlando that the tiny group assembled for pictures and interviews now represents a big chunk of the active members of the fleet.
“This is about all that’s left,” Orlando said.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.