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The Port of New Bedford is a thriving maritime center, home to a number of blue economy professionals and businesses, including seafood processors, gear manufacturers, fishermen, shoreside support services, scientists, academics, and marine tech professionals. And in the coming years, the Port of New Bedford will also support aquaculture farmers and the offshore wind industry.

It is the Port of New Bedford’s mission to develop economic growth strategies along the waterfront. There is always an opportunity to do business with a number of the local, marine-based businesses in our thriving marine industrial port, and we welcome your inquiries. It is the New Bedford Port Authority’s goal to connect any individual interested in doing business in the Port with the appropriate partner(s).

Commercial Fishing

The Port of New Bedford is an integral part of a global seafood supply chain, handling millions of pounds of seafood on an annual basis. An average of 1 million pounds of seafood enters and exits the port by truck, rail, and boat every day. In addition to handling the majority of the seafood landed in the Atlantic, the Port also processes a growing amount of seafood landed in foreign waters, which is then shipped into processors located in the Port of New Bedford who then ship the final product back out to be sold globally.

In 2014 the Port handled 140 million pounds of domestic seafood and 250 million pounds of foreign seafood. As reported in the 2016 Economic Impact Report: “From the processor, the seafood can be trucked locally to wholesalers, go to a cold storage warehouse, trucked to an airport such as Boston’s Logan International Airport or New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport where it is flown to various domestic and international destinations, or trucked to the Port of New York New Jersey where it is put on container vessel to be shipped internationally. It can also be trucked from New Bedford to Worcester where it is railed out to the West Coast for export to Asia.”

The Port of New Bedford has been the nation’s number one most valuable fishing port since 2001.

Municipal Piers and Wharves

The NBPA manages dockside berthing along four municipal piers: Homer’s Wharf, Leonard’s Wharf, Steamship Wharf, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Dockage on these piers is available on a first come, first serve basis. Coal Pocket Pier is also municipally managed, but has assigned docking (please contact our Assistant Harbormaster if you are interested in being added to the waitlist).

We have made significant repairs and improvements to Coal Pocket Pier and Steamship Pier over the past year with funding from the NBPA and a grant from the Seaport Economic Council.

Linear feet of berthing space
Number of Berths
Number of Vessels
Coal Pocket

South Terminal

South Terminal is located inside the Hurricane Barrier and has over 25 acres of marine industrial land, with a 1,600-linear foot bulkhead and depths of 20 feet, for offloading fish and seafood directly into the fish processing plants that occupy most of the site. These modern buildings are where fishing boats are unloaded. Workers fillet, clean, weigh, and package the seafood. Products are then shipped by truck and air freight around the world. The terminal also provides transient berthing for commercial fishing vessels unloading catch or laying over for one or two days. Fees to maintain the bulkhead are set by the NBPA Commission, enforced by Harbormaster officials and collected by the Financial Manager.

History of NBPA Piers and Wharves


  • Homer’s Wharf (also called Merrill’s Wharf) houses some of the waterfront’s seafood processing companies and provides berthing for commercial fishing vessels.
  • Leonard’s Wharf is home to fishing boats and the majority of the Port’s lobster boats. The wharf is named for Samuel Leonard, founder of a lumber company located on the site in 1840. Lumber from the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest was off-loaded and planed in an adjacent mill.
  • Steamship Wharf was rebuilt and doubled in length in 1979 and today houses many fishing and lobster boats. Expansion is possible by limited by its proximity to State Pier and the large vessels there impeded maneuvering capabilities. This historic pier, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places, once served as a terminal for ferries operating between New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, and for service from Boston, New York City, and New London.
  • Coal Pocket Pier is used for berthing fishing and lobster boats. During the golden age of whaling, this short pier was a receiving point for thousands of casks of whale oil. The pier got its name in the late 19th century when coal was stored in tall containers, or pockets, until being shipped out by wagons, and later, by trucks. Due to the Pier’s size and orientation, expansion is impossible.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf was originally two piers – City Pier #3 and #4. The wharf provides additional berthing for the New Bedford fishing fleet and is currently overcrowded with limited space for expansion. The wharf has served a variety of vessels from the early whalers in the 1800s to modern fishing draggers and scallopers in the Port today. Also docked at Fisherman’s Wharf are the Alert (II), a passenger ferry to Cuttyhunk Island, and the Acushnet, Whaling City Tour’s vessel providing harbor tours and launch and water taxi service.
  • South Terminal Offloading Docks consists of a 1,600-linear foot bulkhead that supports the off-loading of fish product. The facility also supports eight fish processing houses.



Permits and Dockage Rates

Docking Permits

No vessel is allowed to dock at a pier or wharf under NBPA control without first obtaining a Docking Application. Only active commercial fishing vessels that are seaworthy and possess adequate insurance are eligible to obtain docking permits. Docking permits only allow the permit holder to tie up at a pier under NBPA administration. Tie up space is not necessarily alongside the cap log (for example, the vessel may be second or third boat abreast). The permit does not convey any rights to the vessel or permit holder to park vehicles or store other equipment inside the cap log area. The NBPA reserves the right to designate particular docking locations for vessels. Application requirements and fees for Docking Permits are described below.

Dockage rates are established by the Commissioners. Effective January 1, 2017, dockage rates are $45 per foot.

Unloading Fees

Unloading fees apply to fishing vessels that do not have annual Docking Permits (but otherwise are eligible for Docking Permits) and that are unloading catch at fish houses whose piers and/or bulkheads are maintained by the NBPA. For example, fishing vessels that unload catch at piers and/or bulkheads under NBPA jurisdiction and then leave port or berth at private docks are subject to unloading fees. Docking Permits include unloading and berthing at piers, wharves, and bulkheads under NBPA jurisdiction.

The offloading rate for vessels that homeport, but just use NBPA infrastructure to offload product is $1000.00/year.

Transient rates for berthing and off-loading

  • Dockage – up to & including boats 50 ft in length – $100.00/day
  • Dockage – over 50 ft – $200.00/day with annual cap of $45 per foot                                                               

Refer to NBPA Rules and Regulations

Please note: As part of the operation of NBPA’s piers and wharves, the Harbormaster officials work to reduce the number of abandoned or derelict vessels scattered throughout the harbor. These vessels, which are left unattended for extended periods of time, sometimes years, occupy scarce berthing space that could otherwise be used by active vessels. Additionally, there are concerns surrounding the safety of these neglected vessels, which have been reported to break free and damage adjacent property during periods of high winds and other severe weather conditions. If a vessel(s) is in violation of NBPA laws, rules and/or regulations, even if fee payments are up to date, it is protocol to no longer allow the vessel(s) to berth at NBPA facilities, as directed by the NBPA Rules and Regulations. The NBPA reserves the right to send a ‘No Trespass’ or a notice to remove the vessel and/or pursue the owner with criminal charges.

User Permits

Private contractors who conduct business on city piers under NBPA administration must obtain a User Permit (a User Compliance Assurance Form) . Examples of contractors include welders, electricians, crane operators, and supply/delivery companies. Additional permits are required for any additional mobile units. Fees for User Permits are described below.

User (Daily) – $50.00

User (Annual) – $300.00

User (Additional Annual Mobile, Welding, Painting Rafts) – .$75.00

Operational rules, including permit conditions and rates/fees are set by the NBPA Commissioners. The NBPA assesses user charges for private contractors and dockage as well as sets unloading fees for vessels that use its facilities or public infrastructure. The revenues are used to operate and maintain properties. Enforcement and billing are handled by the NBPA Marine Superintendents and Harbormaster officials. The Financial Manager tracks and issues payments.

Parking Program on NBPA Piers and Wharves

The Parking Program on NBPA Piers and Wharves is overseen by Marine Superintendents. The NBPA has implemented a parking program for its facilities. Visitor parking is available for up to two hours in designated parking spaces. All other users are charged parking fees as voted by the Commission currently set at $1 dollar per space per day. Violators of NBPA parking rules are fined $50 and can be towed.

NBPA Rules and Regulations

The NBPA implements a set of rules and regulations, or policy controls, in order to operate efficiently and safely to meet the needs of its users. The NBPA also abides by external policies and/or regulations and coordinates with local, state and/or federal agencies as well as community organizations in order to implement projects and/or run its operations

Download the Municipal Pier Rules and Regulations (effective February 2009) and the Mooring and Anchoring Rules and Regulations (effective July 2011)


  • Link to SMAST 2014 Report
  • Link to Martin Study

Aquaculture – To Be Developed

Offshore Wind

The Port of New Bedford has become a significant asset as the offshore wind industry has begun to grow in the United States. New Bedford and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have been preparing for the offshore wind industry for the past several years. In 2015 the state completed the 2-year construction of the Marine Commerce Terminal, a 29-acre facility built specifically for the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind turbines.

In 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed the Act to Promote Energy Diversity, allowing for the procurement of up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2027. And in May 2018, the first winning bid was announced to Vineyard Wind for 800MW of offshore wind energy; Vineyard Wind also signed an 18 month lease with the Marine Commerce Terminal in October 2018.

The Port of New Bedford is poised for the development of the offshore wind industry. As the leading, most valuable commercial fishing industry in the country, New Bedford is also one of few marine industrial working waterfronts on the east coast that is home to a full suite of shoreside services that can support diverse industries.

As the commercial fishing industry continues to consolidate, the Port of New Bedford remains a global hub for landing and processing seafood, supported by ample infrastructure and shoreside services that strengthen the Port’s ability to attract and support new marine industry. While many see the fishing industry as a barrier to offshore wind, we see it as providing us with a competitive advantage – the full supply chain that is already in place to support commercial fishing can also support the offshore wind industry.

As the offshore wind industry continues to develop further south, impacting additional fishing communities, the lessons learned through their work with the Port of New Bedford will only set them up for greater success as they expand operations. Time invested working with the Port of New Bedford to ensure compatibility in shared ocean space with commercial fishermen will save time and effort over the long-term expanding south and in the Pacific Ocean.

Due to our long history as a marine industrial working waterfront, the Port of New Bedford is dedicated to advocating for maritime-based infrastructure needs, maritime-based workforce development, and maritime-based public policy, which also suits the development of offshore wind.

Wind Energy Center



Other Harbor Users


  • Link to State Pier/Mass Development
  • Link to other?

Othe Harbor Users

Yachts, tugs, barges, or other vessels not classified as active commercial fishing vessels will not be issued docking permits and cannot dock at piers under NBPA jurisdiction without the prior permission of the Harbormaster officials and the Executive Director. To support additional port services, the NBPA licenses exclusive and non-exclusive use of several berths on the Central Waterfront. Licenses and fees for this very limited berth space are individually negotiated. Currently, these docking spaces are licensed to Cuttyhunk Water Taxi (a passenger/cargo ferry service) and Whaling City Launch Service.

Sponsors of regattas and races must obtain permission from the NBPA to operate in city waters at least 30 days before the event. No fee is usually required. Organizations wishing to use city piers and other facilities for weekend or holiday activities, such as concerts and festivals, also must obtain the prior permission of the NBPA. Although no fee is usually required for special events, organizers must provide the NBPA with a valid certificate of insurance in an amount specified by the NBPA. The City of New Bedford has permit requirements for special events.

Passenger Ferry Shuttle Services and Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot

The Facilities Manager oversees and operates the Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot, which is located approximately 850 yards north of the State Pier and provides 650 parking spaces to support ferry passenger needs as well as special event activities. Refer to Figure 1.1 for the location of the Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot. Shuttle bus service that transports ferry passengers from the parking lot to the Ferry Terminal is offered.

Whale’s Tooth Parking Lot employees include two full-time bus drivers. In the busy summer season (April to the end of September when the Martha’s Vineyard ferry runs), employee support is expanded to include an additional bus driver, a trolley driver, a cashier and parking attendants. NBPA Commissioners decide, in concert with recommendations from SeaStreak, on winter ferry service.

Cruise Ship Berthing on State Pier

The NBPA arranges and manages contracts with multiple cruise ship lines to use berthing facilities at State Pier. Fees generated from the cruise ports of call are used to subsidize the costs of trolley service and International Longshoremen Association (ILA) that is commissioned by the NBPA to tie the lines for cruise vessels. The ‘Facility/Harbor Operations’ arm of NBPA (specifically the Facilities Manager with support from the state-hired Pier Manager) is responsible for all shore-side and terminal logistics associated with cruise ship visits, including site cleanliness/trash removal, water, sewer, and staffing trolley operations. Night security staffed by the Facilities Manager patrols State Pier at night for the purpose of public safety.

The Facilities Manager also coordinates/provides trolley service to transport cruise visitors on excursions to the various City destinations. The New Bedford Economic Development Council markets these shore-side excursions along with the NBPA Marketing, Retail and Procurement Team. Cruise passengers are provided with welcome brochure that includes a downtown map, coupon booklet and other promotional materials for New Bedford businesses and attractions.


In 2015 the Port of New Bedford, in partnership with city planners and the New Bedford Economic Development Center, undertook long-term redevelopment planning. The initial plan, the Waterfront Framework looks at the entire harbor, and in 2018 we completed the Redevelopment Plan which focuses closely on two underutilized waterfront properties, the Revere Copper site in the upper harbor, and the Sprague/Eversource site located in the Central Waterfront.

Next steps……






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