In New Bedford, city officials have unveiled a draft plan to expand business opportunities for the city's lucrative port.
The Port of New Bedford is the highest grossing commercial fishing port in the country, hauling in $9.8 billion each year. Ninety percent of that economic value is tied to the fishing industry.
But city officials are looking to diversify the port's business base, and they're betting on offshore wind as a way to do that.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said according to a study by the federal Department of Energy, one of the windiest spots along the eastern seaboard is about 25 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
"New Bedford is the closest industrial port (to those wind reserves)," Mitchell said. "So, it’s old-fashioned geographical proximity that puts us in the driver’s seat with this industry, but it’s also what we have here in the port. It’s a full-service port.”
A few years ago, the city invested more than $100 million in a Marine Commerce Terminal that could be used for constructing and maintaining offshore wind farms.
However, offshore wind has proven controversial with fishermen, who have said wind turbines could interfere with their navigation.
Other business strategies listed in the draft plan include securing funding for a national marketing campaign that would brand New Bedford seafood, particularly scallops, the port's most lucrative catch.
In addition to the draft plan, the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission voted to change its name to the New Bedford Port Authority, a move officials said would better represent the agency's growth and responsibilities.
The draft will be open for public comment until next month. Details on how to submit comments will be available at a later date, according to city officials.