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Exhibit explores commercial fishing of decades past

Commercial fishing in New England is the theme of an exhibit of historic photography now on display at The Maine Grind in Ellsworth. "Images from The Atlantic Fisherman" is free to the public and will run through March 31.

The exhibit, with photos dating back to the early 1920s, was compiled by Penobscot Marine Museum's photography archivist Kevin Johnson and curator Ben Fuller. The black-and-white images, which originally appeared in the trade newspaper The Atlantic Fisherman, show working boats and crews, shore-based fishing methods, and shoreside processing activities.

"By the 1920s, internal combustion engines dominated the fisheries," says Fuller. "Fishing schooners were being fitted with auxiliary engines, and new engine-based fishing methods like the otter trawl were being introduced. Engine and gear makers needed to make sales and The Atlantic Fisherman provided a vehicle for advertising. The exhibit shows the fishermen of the engine revolution (and one who resisted it) and the changes in craft and working waterfronts."

The earliest trade publication for New England's fishing industry, The Atlantic Fisherman was founded in Boston in 1919. (It was later was absorbed into National Fisherman, which is still being published.) Penobscot Marine Museum received much of the publisher's early records, including almost 2,000 photographic negatives and prints, from its past president, Gardner Lamson.

Open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, The Maine Grind is a neighborhood café at 192 Main St. in Ellsworth. For information, call (207) 667-0011 or visit