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New Bedford, MA


This major commercial fishing port was once one of the largest whaling ports in the world in the early 1800's. It was home to over half of the entire United States whaling fleeting, a total of over 700 ships. After the decline of the whaling industry, New Bedford turned its attention to fishing. Today it proudly boasts the position of top U.S. port in revenues from commercial fishing.

Celebrating Fishing

Each fall, the city celebrates its fishing heritage during the Working Waterfront Festival where commercial fishermen educate the public about their role in the community and in providing seafood to consumers. There are several fishing related organizations and associations that play an important role in advocating for the fishing industry such as the Fisheries’ Survival Fund (Fairhaven), the New Bedford Fishermen’s Union, the Center for Sustainable Fisheries and the New Bedford Seafood Council.

Commercial Fisheries

New Bedford has approximately 44 fish wholesale companies, 75 seafood processors, and some 200 shore side industries. Maritime International, which operates in New Bedford, has one of the largest U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved cold treatment centers on the East Coast. American Seafoods, one of the largest seafood companies in the United States, has a large processing facility in New Bedford where they process primarily scallops. Norpel (Northern Pelagic Group, LLC), also in New Bedford, is one of the largest pelagic processing companies in the United States, catching and processing both mackerel and herring with a dedicated fleet of mid-water trawlers. New Bedford’s auction house, Whaling City Seafood Display Auction, opened in 1994, allowing fishermen to get fair prices for their catch and providing buyers with a more predictable supply of seafood. 

Most of New Bedford’s commercial fishing revenue comes from the sale of scallops, which generated over $379 million in 2013. Other important species include surf clam/ocean quahog, winter flounder, lobster, monkfish, cod, red/Jonah crab, haddock, silver hake and Atlantic herring. 

Top species harvested in port: Scallops, Groundfish, Monkfish, Surf Clams, Ocean Quahog, Lobster, Skate, Mackerel, Butterfish, Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass.