New Bedford Fishing Fleet Number One Again

New City Port Hauls in Top Revenue
By Joao Ferreira, Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford is the No. 1 money-making fishing port in the nation for the sixth consecutive year.
New Bedford fishermen landed $282.5 million in fish in 2005, an increase of $75 million from 2004, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.
Again, Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Alaska, ranked second at $166.1 million in landings.
New Bedford’s No. 1 position remains intact, despite a decrease in landings from 175.1 million pounds in 2004 to 153.4 million pounds in 2005, a 30 percent drop.
Jim Kendall, a fishing industry consultant from New Bedford, called the results “heartening” in the face of the ever-tightening days-at-sea regulations.
“With less days you would expect it to be worse all the time, but the stocks appear to be a little better than a lot of people think,” he said. “It’s quite a bit of honor to be the number one port.”
He estimated the fishing industry has a $1.6 billion impact on the local economy — a spin-off value of six times the catch value.
Scallops once again were the main contributor to the city’s valuable catch, but groundfish prices have jumped due to low supply and high demand.
“Groundfish prices right now compared to last year, they’ve got to be up 40 percent,” said Richie Canastra, co-owner of the New Bedford Seafood Auction. “The demand has been strong for fresh fish. It’s bad news for the consumer because prices are high.”
Scallops sold for about $8 per pound at the New Bedford Seafood Auction yesterday.
Prices spiked last December at $9 to $10 per pound.
“Obviously, scallops probably played the biggest role,” Mr. Kendall said.
The further tightening of days-at-sea regulations, with a further 18 percent cut of days at sea for groundfish possible in 2008, could have an impact on the industry in the coming years.
Mr. Canastra said new regulations “could be bad news,” but he still predicts that New Bedord will remain the top revenue port in the nation.
“I believe that we will stay number one with the scallops,” he said. “In groundfish, the volume is going to be about the same.”
With fewer days to fish, New Bedford dropped from seventh to eighth in 2005 in terms of the amount of fish landed.
Gloucester, the only other Massachusetts port on the list, ranked 10th in pounds of fish landed.
Dutch Harbor-Unalaska remained the top port for landings for the 17th consecutive year with 887.6 million pounds of fish and shellfish unloaded in 2005. That represents a 1.2 million-pound increase in landings over 2004.
Reedville, Va., slipped into the No. 3 position with 373.4 million pounds, down from 400.5 million pounds in 2004. Intracoastal City, La., jumped from fifth to the No. 2 position with 464 million pounds in 2005, up from 301.8 million pounds in 2004.
The port in Los Angeles is new to the top 10 list, ranking ninth with 139.2 million pounds.
The total domestic commercial landings for 2005 were 9.6 billion pounds, valued at $3.9 billion, the fisheries service said.
Contact Joao Ferreira at jferreira@s-t.com
Date of Publication: February 03, 2007 on Page A05

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