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EDITORIAL: Time to rediscover the spirit of Fish Expo

When the trade show now known as Commercial Marine Expo (CME) returns to New Bedford next spring, organizers are planning an event reminiscent of the old Fish Expo gatherings.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Fish Expo, which in its heyday was the commerical fishing industry’s huge annual gathering, national in scope, alternating between Boston and Seattle.

editorial-SHThose shows were massive.  Here in New England it meant filling the exhibit hall at Hynes Auditorium or later the Bayside Expo Center with all manner of fishing gear, the aisles teeming with fishermen elbowing each other to get a better look.

Big marine supply houses and trap builders brought semi trailers loaded with gear — to be sure fishermen went home with pick-ups stacked full of show specials.

Good times.

But times change.

The industry has had its up and downs.  Show planners moved the event around, in Providence for a time, then over to New Bedford.

Dates have changed.  Gone are the traditional fall dates associated with Fish Expo Boston shows.  Most recently, CME — which evolved out of the East Coast version of Fish Expo — took a run at June dates with limited success.

But now CME has new owners, new dates, and a renewed commitment to its commercial fishing roots.  (See page 5).

We applaud this new (old) direction.

Next year’s CME is set for April 27-28 at the State Pier on New Bedford’s working waterfront.

The dates are better – less likely to gouge into prime fishing time – and the venue is great, no fancy carpeting and all, but a practical, down-to-earth hall with a nice working class feel about it.

New Bedford, if you haven’t been there lately, also has its own appeal.

Waterfront construction, recently completed, has made traffic flow and access to the area easier than ever.  There is also a thriving food scene sprouting up within easy walking distance of the State Pier where, by the way, show parking will be plentiful and free.

Exhibitors are getting a fair shake with affordable freight handling, an improved show layout, and enhanced pre-show promotion to boost attendance.

Fishermen will find more at CME 2016 to make them feel at home – more fishing gear and services, most likely more boats to see and study, and hopefully more fellow fishermen to swap stories with.

Will this be the old Fish Expo?  The answer is no.  Those days are gone.

But based on what we are seeing and hearing, CME 2016 will be true to the spirit of Fish Expo on this big anniversary year.

And we think that is very good news for the
industry.  /cfn/

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