A fisherman sorting through the day’s catch on Boston’s Pier 1. The number of fish caught by local fishermen has been drastically declining in reecent years, in part due to climate change. With the creeping development and the changing climate affecting this industry, each year it gets harder to thrive. The Seaport has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years, and Pier 1 is the last remaining fishing spot in the area.
Boston has long been famous for lobster rolls, clam chowder, and other seafood delicacies. However, the number of active fishing boats in the city has plummeted from several hundred to under twenty. Members of the dwindling community are hardly optimistic; lifetime fisherman Mike Walsh assumes that the figure will be zero within ten years. (insert quote). When Mike looks at the World Trade Center, condos, corporate offices, and all of the other developments that have swallowed the area since the completion of the Big Dig at the beginning of the century, it's hard for him to believe that his space on Pier 1 won’t be next.
A family walks past a building with a “Welcome to the Seaport” sign and construction all around. The Seaport has transformed into a booming area over the last 30 years and a center for shops, restaurants, apartments, and office buildings. But what about the fishermen, whom this area was built for?
The Boston Fish Pier houses 20 commercial fishing boats and 15 seafood businesses. The pier is seeking historical recognition in order to merit more funding for maintenance and to support the local fishermen, but many don’t believe this will keep it afloat. The city “wouldn’t fix any pipes for us, but the minute they got us out of there, they turned around and spent several million dollars to build a conference center,” says Mike Walsh, a longtime fisherman. “That’s how it is.”
Walsh (left), and Steven Broy, Captain of the Olympia, have seen the transformation of the Seaport throughout their careers. They started when the fishing industry in Boston was booming, but now cling to the hope that they will be able to continue working at this pier. “My father would have never believed this," says Walsh "He used to tell us they couldn’t build here bigger than the Fargo Building because the buildings couldn’t be too tall because of Logan airport, and look at it now.”
A pile of fishing nets and lines sits on the dock with the ever growing Seaport skyline sparkling in the background. With the Seaport's prime location near downtown, off the highway, and accessible by the T, many businesses wants to claim space in this area. Although fishermen have stood the test of time in the Seaport, there is no guarantee they will last much longer.
Two fishermen looking out on the changing Seaport skyline as they unload fish. “They’re going to squeeze us right out of here,” says Walsh. “In 2028, all their leases are up. See what happens then. We’re down to 22 dock spaces in all of Boston, and that’s it. There’s no more Pier 7, There’s no more Pier 3. This is all that’s left.”
A pair of fishing gloves left at the pier. These workers go out every morning at dawn, long before the rest of the Seaport is awake, braving the weather in order to support the city’s appetite for local seafood.
Construction is constant in the Seaport. Even with the risk of climate change sinking the area in the next few decades, there is seemingly no stopping the development of the Seaport.
A group of fishermen chatting after the work is done. The community of fishermen is strong as they unite in their common struggles.
Every morning, after the fishermen return to the pier, the fish get sorted and cooled. The workers sort the catch like a well-oiled machine, getting the work done efficiently.
A bird nibbles on a fish head. The animals living in and around the Boston Harbor are greatly affected by the fishing industry. Birds rely on the scraps that the fishermen don’t use in order to survive. With the fishing industry shrinking and the Seaport evolving, the environment could also see a change.
The Seaport has become a place for everyone to find what they need, including Christmas trees. During the holiday season, a tree shop is set up in the middle of the bustling metropolis, with quite a crowd of people shopping for their perfect tree. It's a stark contrast to what the area looked like 30 years ago.
A worker stands by a pile of crushed ice, standing out in his neon orange uniform. Before the fishermen return, there is prep to be done at the pier. It takes many hands in order to keep this operation working smoothly.
At the end of the workday, in the early afternoon, the fishermen pack up their boats and go home. While the rest of the Seaport is only part way through their days, the fishermen are ending theirs.
An orange uniform hung up at the end of the day.
Produced by students of the
Northeastern University School of Journalism. © 2019