New Bedford Mayor, Port Authority, Successfully Advocate Opening Northern Edge Scallop Grounds to Boost Fishing Opportunities

Published April 18, 2024

NEW BEDFORD, MA / ACCESSWIRE / April 18, 2024 / New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell delivered compelling testimony before the New England Fishery Management Council on Tuesday, urging the Council to open the Northern Edge scallop grounds to New Bedford commercial fishermen. Mayor Mitchell emphasized the potential benefits of this move, highlighting its significance as a new source of scallops while other locations recover, and scallop recruitment progresses.

Mayor Mitchell, who also serves as chairman of the New Bedford Port Authority, had previously written to Council Chair Eric Reid, noting that the work of the Habitat and Scallop Plan Development Teams has been careful and thoughtful, and has led to the cautious and prudent recommendation to pursue the opening of Concept Areas #2 and #4. Despite being the smallest of the Concept Areas evaluated, Mayor Mitchell stressed their importance in providing much-needed scallop fishing opportunities.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell testifying at the New England Fishery Management Council

Concept Area #4 was highlighted for potentially harboring the highest concentration of scallops in recent surveys. Mayor Mitchell underscored that scallops have been spawning in the entire Closed Area for years, suggesting that a significant portion of the overall biomass would remain intact even after opening these areas to fishing. Additionally, the identified areas exhibit the lowest amount of complex bottom conditions, reducing the likelihood of adverse habitat impacts from scallop fishing.

Citing a long-term study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Mayor Mitchell emphasized that most habitats recover from scallop fishing impacts in less than 10 months, with even more complex habitats fully recovering within six years. This scientific evidence supports the feasibility and sustainability of opening the identified areas to scallop fishing.

It is anticipated that opening these areas wouldn't necessitate new habitat closures elsewhere, easing the burden on other fishing interests.

National Marine Fisheries Service Regional Administrator Mike Pentony echoed support for moving forward with opening the two concept areas, noting that it was too early to abandon the concept areas over enforcement concerns, and that more can be done to improve enforceability if there are concerns.

Following Mayor Mitchell's testimony, the Council took votes advancing Areas #2 and #4 towards a final action, possibly slated for September. This aligns with the Mayor's request, both in his letter to Chair Eric Reid and in his in-person testimony.

The Port of New Bedford is the most valuable commercial fishing port in the U.S., maintaining its leadership position for more than two decades. With more than 7,000 jobs and 400 fishing vessels, the Port serves as a cornerstone of the regional economy, driving shoreside businesses and attracting significant public and private investments.

While New Bedford's fishing vessels harvest multiple species, scallops remain the prime drivers of economic activity within the Port. Mayor Mitchell highlighted the fishermen's commitment to maintaining the resource and their recognition of the strategic long-term importance of managing the scallop biomass.

The mayor's letter to the NEFMC is available here.

For media inquiries, please contact:
John T. Regan
Director of Policy & External Affairs
(508) 961-3000

About New Bedford Port Authority
The New Bedford Port Authority is a state-created agency charged with managing the Port of New Bedford. The Port is the physical center and primary economic engine of Southeastern Massachusetts. It is America's top commercial fishing port, the staging site for America's first industrial-scale offshore wind project, and home to hundreds of recreational and commercial vessels and businesses. According to a recent study, the Port generates more than $11 billion in annual economic activity and supports more than 6,700 jobs.

SOURCE: Port of New Bedford

View the original press release on


News network reaching more than 1,500 media outlets in 98 countries. The newest, fastest-growing and most disruptive newswire available today.