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The New Bedford Harbor is the world’s most famous whaling era seaport and has been the number one commercial fishing port by value since 2001. Home port to more than 500 commercial scallopers and fishermen, the Port of New Bedford is a thriving working waterfront home to dozens of shoreside support businesses and services.

As one of few marine industrial working waterfronts remaining on the east coast, New Bedford’s full suite of shoreside services is also poised to support the growth of the nascent US offshore wind industry.

New Bedford’s rich history and location in beautiful Buzzard’s Bay also attracts hundreds of tourists and recreational boaters throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You can learn all about the rich history of New Bedford and its longstanding relationship with the sea at the National Park Service.

Our Mission

The New Bedford Port Authority’s primary charge is to support The Port of New Bedford through the implementation of best management practices over port resources and the development of economic growth strategies.

To this end, it is the goal of the New Bedford Port Authority to keep New Bedford on top as the #1 U.S. fishing port, expand existing businesses and capitalize on new opportunities that will maximize The Port’s potential as an economic engine to create jobs and strengthen the New Bedford economy.

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.

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. Visit for more information.

Economically Speaking

The NBPA represents a wide array of harbor interests and one of its primary roles is to support economic development along the waterfront. The NBPA has planning, developing, and financing authority for city properties within the Port. For over 40 years, the NBPA has overseen private development on the waterfront and has actively developed locations for marine industrial use, including North Terminal, South Terminal, and the New Bedford Ferry Terminal at State Pier.

Commercial Fishing

The Port serves as the city’s greatest natural resource and most critical asset, stimulating investment, attracting new industry, creating jobs and developing a healthy economy. More than 6,800 people are directly 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 $11 billion and related employment of more than 40,000 people (see Martin Associates 2018 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 more than $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. The Port handles more break-bulk handling of perishable items than any other port  in Massachusetts and its adjacent states, particularly clementines shipped from North Africa. With its waterfront warehouse capacity, Maritime International has one of the largest USDA-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, the commercial fishing industry, and technology innovators puts New Bedford on the forefront as a leader in marine education, research, technology, and innovation.

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.

Managing City-owned Property on the Waterfront




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