New Bedford is hoping to become the go-to location in the South Coast for aquaculture.
Aquaculture has been operational in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts for decades. However, development of the industry in the South Coast is still in the infant stages, and aquacluture is a recent addition in New Bedford.
A new analysis released by city leaders this week shows New Bedford "presents the greatest opportunity for growth in the immediate future."
Earlier this year, the city’s port authority solicited feedback about leasing acreage for farming fish.
Port Director Edward Anthes-Washburn said almost all of the responses were for shellfish.
Anthes-Washburn said New Bedford is a prime location for developing aquaculture because a lot of the commercial fishing supply chain already exists.
“Aquaculture uses the same supply chain, so the ice houses, the packaging companies, even the gear manufacturers," he said.
Anthes–Washburn said aquaculture would add to port’s lucrative fishing industry, which makes up 90 percent of the port's $9.8 billion economic value. Today, the port's fisheries are mostly wild-caught.
The New Bedford Port Authority plans to request proposals this summer from commercial shellfish growers.
Port officials will also be talking with recreational boaters and other commercial fishermen about how growth of the sector could affect them.
Coastal Enterprises Inc. performed the analysis. It was funded by the Garfield Foundation and Santander Bank.