Still Number 1 Fishing Port in Country

Value of Port’s Catch Dips, but Still Tops in U.S.
By Becky W. Evans
Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — The value of the Port of New Bedford’s seafood catch dipped a bit in 2007, but it was still strong enough to make it the nation’s most valuable port for the eighth consecutive year.
In 2007, fishermen landed $268 million worth of scallops, fish and other seafood in New Bedford — more than any other port in the country, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service. The data is part of a report on the state of the nation’s fisheries that is released annually by the agency.
NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Monica Allen said scallops were the primary reason for the high value of New Bedford’s landings.
“The positive thing is it signifies the prosperity and health of the industry relative to other fishing industries around the country,” said Dr. Brian Rothschild, a fisheries scientist who chairs the Mayor’s Oceans and Fisheries Council.
Despite its No. 1 ranking, New Bedford’s total landing value in 2007 was down $13.4 million from $281.4 million in 2006, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Ms. Allen said a number of factors could have led to the lower value. Among them, she said, is that scallop fishermen made more trips to Mid-Atlantic fishing grounds than to New England fishing grounds in 2007. In 2006, the opposite was true. Vessels tend to offload their catch in the port closest to the fishing grounds, meaning that New Bedford vessels might land their catch in Mid-Atlantic ports when fishing in that region.
For that reason, Deb Shrader, executive director of the fishermen’s advocacy group Shore Support, said it is important to recognize that other ports helped contribute to New Bedford’s top ranking for landings.
“We need to be grateful not just for the Port of New Bedford but for other communities that come here to fish from other areas,” she said.
High fuel prices have caused scallopers from Virginia, North Carolina and Maine to fish out of New Bedford so that they can be closer to fishing grounds off the Massachusetts coast, she said. Landings from those out-of-town vessels helped contribute to New Bedford’s success, she said.
The port of Dutch Harbor-Unalaska in Alaska followed behind New Bedford with $174.1 million in landings, but it stole first place for the total amount of seafood landings with 777.2 million pounds. New Bedford ranked 9th in that category with 149.5 million pounds.
Contact Becky W. Evans at
July 19, 2008
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