Port of New Bedford

America's #1 Fishing Port

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key features

Fishing, Shipping, Foreign Trade Zone and Hurricane Protection

Harbor Location

The Port of New Bedford (the “Port”) is a deepwater commercial port with easy access to the maritime corridor from the Massachusetts coast, located on the northwestern side of Buzzard’s Bay. The Port is approximately nine nautical miles from the Cape Cod shipping canal, 83 miles south of Boston, and 166 miles north of New York.

Economically Speaking

The Port serves as the city’s greatest natural resource and most critical asset to stimulate investment, attract new industry, create jobs and develop a healthy economy. Over 6,000 people are employed by New Bedford’s commercial port. New Bedford is the number one value fishing port in the nation generating economic activity in excess of $9.8 billion and related employment of more than 36,000 people (see Martin Associates 2016 report). The fishing fleet of 500 lands over 122 million pounds of product annually leveraging $322 million in direct sales.

In addition to commercial fishing, the Port supports a diverse market of cargo transport and handles over $230 million in shipping of bulk commodities and break-bulk cargo. Barge operations move aggregate and break-bulk cargo to the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. 

In fact, the Port does more break-bulk handling of perishable items than any other port  in Massachusetts and the adjacent states. Commodities brought by refrigerated vessels from around the world primarily include fresh fruit. With its waterfront warehouse capacity, Maritime International has one of the largest U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved cold treatment centers on the East Coast for the use of restricted imported fruit.  Port calls vary between one and two days per discharge.

Finally, the maturing nexus between marine science and the fishing industry puts New Bedford on the forefront as a leader in marine education, research and technology.

Foreign Trade Zone

The Port is also a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ #28) which provides duty-free manufacturing opportunities for importers and exporters. The City of New Bedford is the grantee and holder of FTZ #28 and the Port, Regional Airport, and adjacent areas make up the FTZ. This designation gives a competitive advantage to foreign businesses looking to trade in US markets.  Read more about FTZ #28. 

Hurricane Barrier

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. Read the Hurricane Plan for Recreational Boaters.

The Hurricane Barrier stretches across the water from the south end of New Bedford to the Town of Fairhaven. The barrier's 150-foot opening closes during hurricane conditions and coastal storms make the Harbor one of the safest hubs on the eastern seaboard.

Designated Port Area

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management has classified portions of the waterfront in New Bedford and Fairhaven as a Designated Port Area (DPA) under a program to preserve and promote maritime industry. The DPA classification encourages the creation or expansion of water-dependent industrial facilities, such as fish processing plants, in developed harbor areas. DPAs are subject to specific provisions, including land use restrictions, under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 91, which is administered by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. DPAs also are officially identified as priority areas for federal and state funding, including funds available under the Seaport Bond. (Original source: MA Coastal Zone Management Web site: www.mass.gov/czm)

No Discharge Area 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated Buzzards Bay, including New Bedford Harbor, as a No Discharge Area (NDA). In NDAs, the discharge of all boat sewage, even if it is treated, is prohibited. The Coast Guard enforces restrictions in NDAs. To help boaters comply with federal law, pumpout facilities have been established throughout the area. Pumpouts are wet vacuums that draw sewage out of boat holding tanks for proper disposal. Many of these facilities have been funded by federal grants and are available at little or no cost to boaters. For more information on pumpout locations, contact the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management at (617) 626-1212 or www.mass.gov/czm or the Division of Marine Fisheries at (508) 563-1779 x119.(Original source: MA Coastal Zone Management Web site: www.mass.gov/cz


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