New Bedford received a $24-million-dollar grant from the state to dredge its harbor, simultaneously making the environment cleaner, and also making it more friendly to industry. On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker visited the city and spoke at the New Bedford Whaling Museum to announce the grant. It will allow for 430 thousand cubic yards of contaminated sediment to be removed from the harbor, and be the final phase in the state's cleanup efforts of one of the country's largest superfund sites.
"This is in fact an incredibly important asset to southeastern Massachusetts, to New Bedford and to the people of this region," Baker said. "And it’s no secret that it’s the most significant port in the United States if you’re thinking and talking about fishing."
He also added that in deepening the harbors ports, he hoped that it would allow for more fishing vessels to use the harbor, and that it would also allow construction vessels associated with the offshore wind industry to use it. He also reaffirmed the state's commitment to fostering the offshore wind industry in the region.
"I absolutely believe that in the end, we have to find a way for this to work for the fishing industry and to make it work for the wind community," Baker said. "It's a big ocean out there, and we're going to do everything we can to see that that happens."
The dredging will deepend berths and access points for over 40 marinas in the harbor. New Bedford mayor Jon Mitchell spoke about the project in front of a window overlooking the harbor.
"The biggest card New Bedford has is right behind those drawn drapes, it’s the port of New Bedford," Mitchell said. "And in order for us to make the most of it, [we have] to leverage those assets, and to make a strong business case for investment."
New Bedford’s port is one of the most productive fishing ports in the country, and the state hopes it will also be able to use part of the port for offshore wind farm construction for wind farms proposed off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.