March 28, 2016

Town of Gloucester comes together to launch a guidebook for fishing communities dealing with crisis

The new guide for fishing communities dealing with crises was presented publicly for the first time at the Gloucester Coast Guard Station at an event hosted by Fishing Partnership Support Services and Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership.

The manual titled ‘Responding to Emergencies at Sea and to Communities Under Extreme Stress’, or RESCUES for short, consolidates a wealth of information to help prepare individuals, groups and entire communities for crises affecting members of the commercial fishing industry. The manual addresses important considerations for preventing injury and serves as a guide for dealing with tragedies such as the sinking of a boat or the aftermath of losing a crewmember at sea. The book is the result of three years of community effort, numerous community interviews, and the painstaking work of organizing all the information into useful and concrete sections.

"Fishing communities who use the information that is in this manual will undoubtedly be safer and more prepared to deal with crises when they do occur. [...]We are lucky to have organizations like Fishing Partnership Support Services, MIT Sea Grant, and Harvard School of Public Health here to help us"
- Coast Guard Captain Claudia C. Gelzer, commanding officer of Sector Boston and Captain of the Port of Boston

Ms. Sanfilippo, president of Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, served as the master of ceremony for the event. Ms. Sanfilippo was an important advisor to the project, helping identify critical issues and suggesting interviewees, as well as being one of three community interviewers for the project. People often talk about the aging of the commercial fishermen and the loss of critical fishing knowledge that is no longer being passed down through families, but what they fail to realize is that fishing community organizers are also beginning to retire without anyone to take their place. Communities won’t be as prepared to respond to crisis and much of what has traditionally been passed through generations will be lost.

“To me, RESCUES is about peace of mind. Many of us who have been involved for years in helping fishermen and their families are in the last years of our working lives and it is good to know that the knowledge and insights we have gained are now gathered in one place for the benefit of future generations.”
- Angela Sanfilippo, president of Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association

The launch of RESCUES was a wonderful celebration of a step forward in making fishing and fishing communities safer. The event was packed, with people standing across the back of the room and waiting out in the hallway to hear the panel of speakers. The Gloucester community was present in force, with a strong showing by first responders including firemen, EMT’s, and policemen as well as Coast Guard sailors, fishermen, fishing organizations, the mayor of Gloucester, and many more.

To commemorate the event Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) presented a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to the Massachusetts Fishermen Partnership for the historic publication of the RESCUES manual, \in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community.

"This manual belongs to everyone: the MA Fishing Partnership Support Services and their partners, the people of Gloucester and especially the families who work in the fishing industry. I thank MIT Sea Grant for its leadership on this effort, which will help protect the fishing industry that is so vital not just to Gloucester, but all of New England’s economy and culture."
- Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)

If you would like a print copy of the RESCUES manual, please contact or download a copy using the links to the right.


Angela Sanfilippo of Gloucester Fishinmens' Wives holds up the RESCUES manual. From left to right J.J. Bartlett, President of Fishing Partnership Support Services; Madeleine Hall-Arber, MIT Sea Grant; Angela Sanfilippo, Gloucester Fishermens' Wives; Kristina Pinto Fishing Partnership Support Services; Ann Backus, Harvard School of Public Health. Browse more images of the Gloucester Launch of the RESCUES manual

RESCUE manual (PDFs)