Safety and Security
New Bedford is a safe and secure port
The New Bedford Police, Massachusetts Environmental Police, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all have a strong presence in the Port. Their goal is to protect the safety of the public, the physical harbor and the interests of maritime commerce.
The following sections describe the multiple layers of safety and security that have jurisdiction over the Harbor. They all require NBPA’s coordination since NBPA is the designated governing authority of the Port.
New Bedford Police Department - Port Security Unit
The City of New Bedford Police Port Security Unit provides a marine detachment with an office and dock space located at the southwest corner of Fisherman’s Wharf. This detachment maintains an active daily presence on the waterfront and, in addition to law enforcement and responding to marine emergencies, assists with watersheet management and other duties promoting the efficient and safe operation of local maritime activities. This detachment also coordinates the use and deployment of the City’s dive team and escorts any ships of foreign origin.
Massachusetts Environmental Police
The MA Environmental Police duties primarily involve enforcing state laws relating to boating safety and marine fisheries but also frequently support search and rescue and homeland security missions. There are at least two Environmental Police Officers (EPOs) working in or around New Bedford Harbor on most days. Two MEP boats are assigned to the Harbor: a 41-foot utility boat; and a 27-foot SAFE boat. When not in use, both are normally docked at the Pope’s Island Marina.
U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard enforces all applicable federal laws aboard U.S. vessels and all vessels operating in U.S. waters. The agency stops drugs and illegal immigrants, combats piracy, and inspects vessels for compliance with safety and pollution regulations. It also enforces federal fisheries regulations and works with agencies to protect other living marine resources. The Coast Guard conducts search and rescue and homeland security operations.
New Bedford is within the Providence Marine Inspection Zone and Captain of the Port Zone – part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s First District. New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor is within the area of responsibility for Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England, headquartered in Woods Hole. Specific Coast Guard responsibilities related to the Harbor’s operation include:
- Providing port security
- Regulating vessel traffic within federal navigable waters
- Licensing and inspecting commercial vessels
- Responding to marine emergencies and significant marine events
- Placing and maintaining aids to navigation (i.e., buoys; lighthouses; beacons)
- Responding to oil/chemical spills and protecting the marine environment
- Approving marine event permits and when needed providing safety patrols
- Breaking ice when it impacts commercial vessel operations
- Operating Buzzards Bay Vessel Movement Reporting System
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a federal agency responsible for the operation and maintenance of the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier, including the opening and closing of the two hurricane doors that guard the main shipping channel leading into the Harbor. USACE officials decide when the gates will be closed (i.e., when hurricanes threaten or for other severe weather, including coastal storms or strong high tides) and reopened. USACE also oversees the Federal Navigation Project in New Bedford, a dredging project to fully restore federally authorized channel depths in the Harbor as well as approves in-water (i.e., flowed tidelands) infrastructure projects. Currently, USACE is working with the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office and other state and local agencies on project planning.
New Bedford HarborMaster Officials
The NBPA is the designated governing authority of the Port by the Massachusetts General Court under Chapter 762 of the Acts of 1957. New Bedford Harbormaster officials act as agents of the NBPA who are responsible for maintenance of all NBPA facilities and enforces local laws relating to marine environmental protection, negligent boat operation and general use of the watersheet. The Harbormaster officials also operate the boat waste pump-out facilities (at no cost, in accordance with state environmental regulations), conduct emergency pumping of boats when sinking at the dock or out on the Harbor, and are responsible for clear access (snow removal) to all NBPA landside facilities. The Harbormaster officials also reserve the right to issue parking violations within NBPA facilities