1997The first seafood display auction was held.Economy and Industry, Maritime & Fishing Industry

Created with the hope of opening new markets for fresh seafood, the 37,000-square-foot auction space had high demand for seats.

In 1997, the Ciulla family of Gloucester invested $2.5 million to open a fish auction house on Duncan’s Point. It sought to provide a local market that would emphasize fish quality over quantity that was otherwise dominated by Boston and New York. Expecting to revive the city’s shrinking fishing industry and improve fishermen’s incomes, the Gloucester Seafood Auction attracted buyers from across the country to bid on newly landed fish that were separated by species and graded for quality. The refrigerated auction house on Harbor Loop was the size of a basketball court with a large digital screen for displaying bids for each lot of fish. Up to 350 fishing boats were registered to unload their catches at the auction house.

The Ciulla family sold the auction house in 2011 to Kristian Kristensen, owner of Zeus Packing, which changed its name to the Gloucester Fish Exchange. The new firm was profitable until challenged by federal lawsuits over selling illegal fish and for employee wage violations. Even though the federal charges were eventually resolved, the Fish Exchange would never prosper as a thriving business.

Greene, David L. "'Display' Auction Proves to Be Quite a Catch for Massachusetts Fishermen." Los Angeles Times. December 25, 1999.
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