Tag Archives: New Bedford

Fuel, diesel oil spills and bilge leaks continue to plague New Bedford Harbor

They are called “mystery” spills, and they can be caused by a fuel line dislodging, a bilge leak or a diesel spill like the one that occurred near the State Pier on New Year’s Eve. Andrew Jones, an environmental analyst in the Department of Environmental Protection’s Lakeville office, has been an emergency responder with the emergency response section for the last 24 years.  He said it’s called a “mystery” spill when there is no way of knowing its source or who caused it. He said it could have been an accident, a boat sinking, a land source or an elicit bilge discharge or another cause. Renewed efforts are underway to site a shoreside bilge water recovery facility, or pump-out facility, for New Bedford Harbor. >>click to read<< 09:02

Blue Harvest to shut down, ending reign over New England groundfish

Blue Harvest Fisheries is set to shut down all fishing operations on Friday, its fishermen were told this week. It marks the last in a cascade of sales and closures for the billionaire-backed business venture that once aimed to “dominate” the New England fishing industry but ended up overcapitalized and belly up on the dock.  The company launched in 2015, flush with private equity capital, and expanded at a rapid clip to become the single-largest groundfish permit holder in New England. It still owns the permits and vessels, but seafood industry sources say, after the shut down, a quick sale or bankruptcy filing is likely.  “A big rise leads to a big fall,” said Luke deWildt, captain of the Teresa Marie IV, >>click to read<< 07:52

Massachusetts Commercial Fisherman Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty today to evading taxes on income he earned as a commercial fisherman. According to court documents and statements made in court, John Doe of New Bedford, Massachusetts, worked as a commercial fisherman operating primarily out of the Port of New Bedford. Despite receiving approximately $1.9 million in income between 2012 and 2021, Doe did not file tax returns with the IRS and did not pay taxes on the income he earned. To conceal his earnings from the IRS, Doe cashed his paychecks from fishing companies at check-cashing businesses and then used the cash to fund his personal lifestyle. He also used stolen identities to cash the checks. In total, Doe caused a tax loss to the IRS of approximately $520,415. >>click to read<< 13:57

A reporter went on the Jones Act Enforcer vessel monitoring Vineyard Wind. What she saw.

Aaron Smith, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association, was our host on this trip. It’s his intent on behalf of the association to be on the lookout for ships in violation of the Jones Act and taking jobs away from American workers. The ship is named after the Jones Act, a section of federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the United States by requiring that goods shipped between U.S. points be transported on ships that are built, owned and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents. Captain Rick Spaid and his crew sped through the water at about 17 knots give or take when he was able and brought us within about 0.5 nautical miles of the ships we saw. Photos, >click to read< 09:46

Commercial fishing boat catches fire in New Bedford, one crew member injured

A boat caught on fire Monday afternoon in New Bedford, according to police. Police received calls around 1:30 p.m. for a vessel on fire new Niemiec Marine. The crew of Engine 7 reported smoke coming from a docked vessel, F/V Madi J.” Due to a lack of nearby hydrants, Marine 38 was utilized to establish a water supply for crews to complete extinguishment. 6 Photos, >click to read< 09:41

New Bedford said to be best place for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Is there a better place to site the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast operations than New Bedford? Mayor Jon Mitchell doesn’t think so. And he’s joined in that opinion by a “very broad coalition of business and civic leadership. “Mitchell sent a letter co-signed by more than 50 business and civic leaders to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad this month making a pitch to consolidate its Northeast facilities in New Bedford. A similar letter was sent to NOAA in 2016, but recent developments warranted another entreaty. New Bedford’s port accounts for about 70% of the state’s commercial fish landings, according to the letter. While Gloucester hosts most of the NOAA’s facilities regionally, its landings are about one-seventh the size of New Bedford’s. >click to read< 09:54

How foreign private equity hooked New England’s fishing industry

The 85-foot trawler, deep green and speckled with rust, was returning from a grueling fishing trip deep into the Atlantic swells. As sunrise broke over New Bedford harbor, the fish were offloaded in plastic crates onto the asphalt dock of Blue Harvest Fisheries, one of the largest fishing companies on the East Coast. About 390 million pounds of seafood move each year through New Bedford’s waterfront, the top-earning commercial fishing port in the nation. Leeman and his crew are barely sharing in the bounty. On deck, Leeman held a one-page “settlement sheet,” the fishing industry’s version of a pay stub. Blue Harvest charges Leeman and his crew for fuel, gear, leasing of fishing rights, and maintenance on the company-owned vessel. Across six trips in the past 14 months, Leeman netted about 14 cents a pound, and the crew, about 7 cents each — a small fraction of the $2.28 per pound that a species like haddock typically fetches at auction. Photos, >click to read< 12:04

New Bedford receives $99,290 grant to support commercial fishing industry, build climate resiliency

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced $1.6 million in grants to support innovative approaches to enhance Massachusetts commercial marine fisheries and the seafood industry. Twenty Massachusetts businesses and organizations are receiving funding through the Environmental Economic Innovation and Resiliency in Marine Fisheries Grant Program, supplemented by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The grant program will fund projects that work to mitigate economic barriers resulting from climate change and promote sustainable, local fisheries development in Massachusetts. >click to read< 08:04

MassDEP Fines F/V Capt Carl, LLC for Discharge of Oiled Bilge Water to New Bedford Harbor 

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $10,465 penalty to Trawler Capt. Carl, LLC of New Bern, North Carolina, for discharging oiled bilge water to the surface water of New Bedford Harbor near 4 Washington Street in Fairhaven. MassDEP’s surface water discharge regulations prohibit unpermitted discharges which are not incidental to the normal operation of a vessel. On May 5, 2022, MassDEP responded to the report of an oil spill in New Bedford Harbor off Fairhaven. Because a responsible party was not forthcoming, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a publicly funded cleanup. Later investigation of Trawler Capt. Carl’s commercial fishing vessel in the immediate vicinity of the spill revealed a pronounced “bathtub ring” of oil within the vessel bilge, indicating that the oiled bilge water had recently been pumped out. >click to read< 13:49

New England Fishing Culture

In New Bedford, fishing is more than a business—it is a way of life, passed down through generations of families like a tradition instead of an occupation. Born into a family of fishermen, Tyler Miranda grew up on the water, going out on trips in his father’s lobster boat—a wooden vessel about 14 feet long and half-covered in ocean-worn lobster traps—since he was six. Kellen O’Maley, a fisherman from Gloucester, Mass., chose not to pursue opportunities using a business degree. (Gloucester, a town two hours north of New Bedford, is the second largest fishing port in the state.) Instead, he dove into the fishing industry. >click to read< 10:19

The Emerging American Offshore Wind Industry is Impacting the Community of New Bedford

The Port of New Bedford is home to the wealthiest commercial fishing industry in the country. As the dominant port on the east coast, New Bedford has one of the best industrial working waterfronts with services that completely support marine industrial businesses. Fisherman are concerned that these wind developments will harmfully impact the fishing economy. With commercial fishing at the core of New Bedford’s economy, there are concerns regarding management and maintenance of both industries cohabitating. “I was adamantly opposed to having them offshore, to be honest with you. I don’t feel it’s a good environment for them,” said Captain Jim Kendall, a retired scalloper.  “I think it’s going to be real problematic for them, plus it’s parking these towers right where these boats fish.” >click to read< 08:06

Blue Harvest Fisheries’ Newest Vessel, F/V Nobska, Successfully Completes First Series of Fishing Trips

The newest, most modern vessel in the New England groundfish fishery, the F/V Nobskahas returned to port after its successful inaugural deployment. The vessel was acquired earlier this year by Blue Harvest Fisheries, as part of the company’s investment in the future of its groundfish operations.  The Nobska embarked on four back-to-back trips between April 7 and May 10, and landed 335,000 pounds of fish in its home port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, with additional landings in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The catch included several groundfish species, including monkfish, flounder, haddock, Acadian redfish, hake, and pollock. A series of three to four back-to-back trips, followed by a short break for maintenance and crew rest, is a typical operational plan for this vessel. Video, photos, >click to read< 07:45

Ship carrying parts for offshore wind turbines arrives in New Bedford

New Bedford was once the city that lit the world, exporting vast quantities of whale oil for lamps in the early 1800s. Workers packed the docks, unloading casks of oil that had been extracted at sea from whale carcasses and brought in by a fleet of hundreds of whaling ships. Nearly two centuries later New Bedford aspires to light the world again, in a different relationship with the sea, as the offshore wind industry arrives here. On Wednesday, the vessel UHL Felicity bringing wind turbine tower sections from Portugal reached the Port of New Bedford. Once assembled out on the water this summer by developer Vineyard Wind, the turbines will stand more than 850 feet high. “There’s this sort of poetic coming-about for New Bedford as a center of energy,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. Video, >click to read< 09:42

New Bedford Port Authority weighs in on fisheries mitigation for offshore wind

New Bedford Port Authority Executive Director Gordon Carr is calling for SouthCoast Wind to follow Vineyard Wind’s lead in support of local fisheries programs and projects. Vineyard Wind is closing in on construction of its wind farm. “Similar to Vineyard Wind, SouthCoast Wind has deployed a robust fisheries liaison program staffed by professionals that truly know the commercial fishing industry,” he said. The New Bedford Port Authority is a member of an advisory panel established by Vineyard Wind. “It is difficult to determine the areas most impacted given the many unknowns related to offshore wind effects on the ocean ecosystem and the fishery,” he said. >click to read< 07:39

New Bedford fisherman sentenced for evading $431,000 in federal taxes

A New Bedford man was sentenced in federal court in Boston for evading more than $431,000 in federal income taxes over the course of seven years. Victor M. Cruz, 43, was sentenced on May 9 by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to time served (10 months in prison) followed by one year of supervised release. Cruz was also ordered to pay $431,835 in restitution to the IRS. On Feb. 12, 2023, Cruz pleaded guilty to three counts of tax evasion. >click to read< 09:11

Profitable Port of New Bedford draws IRS scrutiny of tax evading fishermen

As the nation’s number one commercial fishing port, New Bedford is very much on the radar. “The statistics we have cover the six New England states but really the fishing industry is significant in Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts, with, of course, New Bedford being the most valuable port not only in New England but in the United States,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Supervisory Special Agent Matthew Amsden. Seven New England fishermen, including three from New Bedford and one from Fall River, were charged last month with tax evasion and failing to file returns. The other three indicted were from Rhode Island, according to a press release from the IRS Criminal Investigation unit. >click to read< 07:40

New Bedford’s fishing community is working with Vineyard Wind. Here’s how.

For Captain Tony Alvernaz, accepting a job doing safety work for Vineyard Wind has provided added income for his family and the families of the people who work for him. They are monitoring the work zone for Vineyard Wind as the company proceeds with turbine installation and at the same time are helping get the word out to other fishermen, according to Crista Bank, the fisheries manager at Vineyard Wind. Bank said the involvement of fishing vessels in the project is really important and that the same opportunities are offered to a single vessel owner, a scallop owner with a couple of boats or vessels that are up to international standards. “We’re trying to make sure we’re contracting with all different sized vessels and vessel owners,” she said. >click to read< 08:10

Groundfish operations change focus for New Bedford seafood company

While a local supplier of seafood continues its efforts to focus exclusively on groundfish and upgrade and modernize its fleet, it has announced the temporary closure of the processing facility it operates in New Bedford, resulting in layoffs to 64 employees. Blue Harvest Fisheries will be upgrading and modernizing its fleet as part of a shift in strategy to realize the potential of its groundfish operations and continue focusing exclusively on groundfish. While originally focused on acquiring assets in the scallop fishery, Blue Harvest Fisheries President Chip Wilson said management became aware of a unique situation in the ground fishing industry, an industry that has been depressed in New England since the late 1980s.  >click to read< 12:35

Eastern Fisheries severs ties with staffing firms in wake of NLRB case

Eastern Fisheries Inc., a global supplier of seafood based in New Bedford, Massachusetts announced Monday that it is going to employ workers directly instead of through staffing firms. Eastern Fisheries said it has long used staffing firms, but the decision to employ workers directly comes after a decision in an NLRB case. The company said one worker from a staffing firm had filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board claiming the company had improperly asked the staffing firm to stop sending the employee to its workplace. >click to read< 10:36

Undocumented workers boxed out as Eastern Fisheries restructures – Last week, Eastern Fisheries cut ties with its main staffing agencies. The company told 110 of its workers on Friday that they could reapply for the same jobs they previously held as direct employees of Eastern Fisheries. >click to read<

Eastern Fisheries cuts temp agency, laying off New Bedford workers amid labor probe

Eastern Fisheries is cutting ties with its main staffing agency, potentially laying off as many as 200 fish processors amid an ongoing federal investigation into unfair labor practices at the company. Those involved described the action of Eastern Fisheries as retaliation aimed at a small group of workers attempting to organize the largely immigrant workforce and fight for better labor conditions. Eastern Fisheries is one of the top employers on the waterfront and the largest scallop company on the east coast. Video, >click to read< 11:51

Offshore Wind Farm Company Vinyard Wind Begins Construction

Vineyard Wind hosted a tour on Monday at the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford to show members of the media and the local business leaders of One SouthCoast Chamber the early construction of the Vineyard Wind 1 Project, the first offshore commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States. The Vineyard Wind 1 project aims to construct an 800-megawatt, 62-turbine wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The project is expected to be completed and delivering power by the end of the year. >click to read< 11:50

Blue Harvest to close New Bedford processing plant, lay off 64 workers

“All Blue Harvest employees who perform food processing work at this facility will be separated. This action is expected to be permanent,” the company wrote in a letter to its staff, signed by company president Chip Wilson and dated Friday, March 24. Blue Harvest employees, both processors and fishermen were confused and frustrated by the sudden announcement. “Everyone’s making decisions, but they’re not talking to the guys catching the fish,” said one Blue Harvest fisherman, who asked not to be identified. “I still have my job. But who knows? We’re just told to go fishing.”  >click to read< 11:25

‘This is the war’: New Bedford at center of conflict between fishing, wind industries

New Bedford is the top commercial fishing port in the country, but it’s also emerging as an epicenter of conflict between the fishing industry and the growing wind industry. “This is the war, and we’re going to lose,” said Cassie Canastra, director of operations at Base Seafood, an electronic seafood auctioning company that her father and uncle founded in 1994. Canastra called it “defeating” to watch various wind farm projects expand into vital fishing grounds. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said he wants the city to be both the top fishing port and the No. 1 hub for wind energy nationwide, though he recognizes tensions between the two industries need to be addressed. Video, >click to read< 07:45

Blue Harvest doubles down on groundfish, after selling off scallop fleet

Blue Harvest Fisheries announced this week that it has purchased a new trawler, expanding its groundfish operations as the company sells off the last of its scallop fleet. The 91-foot trawler, originally called the Francis Dawn, will be renamed the Nobska. It replaces a different Blue Harvest vessel, also named the Nobska, which burned at sea in 2021. The charred and gutted vessel has been tied to the company’s dock on Herman Melville Boulevard in New Bedford ever since — declared a total loss at an estimated $2.4 million. >click to read< 07:18

New Bedford’s Pope’s Island will play a key role in Vineyard Wind construction

A new partnership will meet the demand for fuel for New Bedford’s fishing industry as well as Vineyard Wind, as construction of the offshore wind farm gets under way. Vineyard Wind has signed a partnership with Shoreline Offshore, a joint venture between Quinn Fisheries and SEA.O.G Offshore, a leading integrated logistics provider, to build out a berthing and fueling area on Pope’s Island for crew transfer vessels. Shoreline Offshore was created in 2022 to connect the emerging offshore wind industry with local businesses in and around New Bedford through one central entity. Its mission is to ensure New Bedford’s local marine-based businesses are included in the continued growth of New Bedford’s marine economy. >click to read< 13:21

A New Bedford fishing boat needed a new engine. Cost: $175K. And that was just the start.

Pedro Cura had a decision to make. Last September, Paulo Valente was coming through Butler’s Flat, heading back to the dock, when suddenly the engine blew in the dragger he captains for Cura and his business partner. The wear and tear from the many fishing trips aboard Fisherman, as she’s called, had caused the damage, Valente said. The engine had already been rebuilt a few times over the years. One of the options Cura was entertaining was cutting up the boat for scrap metal and just calling it a day. Another was using parts from another old engine he found to rebuild it. Instead, he decided to buy a new engine from Windward Power Systems in Fairhaven a month later. 19 Photos, >click to read< 08:01

New Bedford mayor calls for closed scallop grounds to reopen to fishermen

“Recent research by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and others demonstrates that the Northern Edge can sustain scallop fishing. Given this research, I do not see a pressing need to conduct additional research before opening the Northern Edge,” Mitchell stated in written testimony submitted to the NEFMC.  While New Bedford fishing vessels harvest multiple species, he said, “scallops are the prime drivers” of the Port of New Bedford’s economy, the most valuable commercial fishing port in the United States. >click to read< 06:31

Regulators see hard years ahead for the scallop fishery, New Bedford’s cash cow

Scientists report that young scallops off the eastern seaboard have been struggling to grow to maturity for nearly a decade now, constraining one of the nation’s most lucrative fisheries to its lowest biomass in more than 20 years. In a presentation before the New England Fishery Management Council on Wednesday, the council’s scallop analyst Jonathon Peros projected that the latest regulations adopted by the council will cap next year’s scallop harvest at 25 million pounds, a steep drop from a record harvest of 61 million pounds recorded just four years earlier. >click to read< 09:45

New Bedford Fishermen Hand out 50 Turkeys to Families in Need

If you ask me what my favorite time of year is, I’ll gladly tell you it’s Thanksgiving without hesitation. Surprisingly it has nothing to do with the food and everything to do with paying it forward. That’s precisely what three local fishermen did. On the evening of Thursday, November 17th around 5:15 PM, a few crew members from the F/V E.S.S. Pursuit posted up by the docks with a truckbed full of frozen turkeys. They had just left the Kings Highway Stop & Shop in New Bedford with 50 frozen turkeys they had purchased with their hard-earned money. The plan was to give to any family in need of a turkey this year, the motif was the urge to pay it forward. Leading the charge was New Bedford native Ryun Coleman alongside his crew members Taylor Newton and Robert Pina. Together they pitched in so 50 families can have a Thanksgiving they’ll never forget. >click to read< 18:20

The next generation: Tyler Miranda fights for New Bedford fishermen

Tyler Miranda went on his first fishing trip on his father’s lobster boat when he was six years old. Little did that child know that over 30 years later he would launch to prominence among New Bedford scallopers when he led the charge against a proposed limited access permit leasing program earlier this year. “I don’t want to be a Wal-Mart fisherman,” he said before representatives of the New England Fishery Management Council in May. “I think the fisherman’s voice should be heard.” Video, photos, >click to read< 07:43