By Colin Woodard
For once it's a good day at the Portland Fish Exchange in Maine.
Two dozen buyers representing fish processors, distributors, and retailers crowd in the auction room, consulting computer monitors and parrying one another's bids for the freshly landed catch laid out on ice in the refrigerated hangar next door.
Remnants of a tropical storm blew into the Gulf of Maine overnight, driving the fleet into port with whatever it had caught. Harmony, one of the few big bottom trawlers to have survived New England's fisheries crisis, has disgorged thousands of winter flounder caught in the Nantucket Sound, 180 miles to the south. Now packed in dozens of ice-filled totes, the small flatfish are displayed next to heaps of haddock and a 40-pound codfish brought in by one of a dozen smaller gillnetters, day boats that deploy their stationary gear on banks closer to home.