NEW BEDFORD — A service in memory of Portuguese fishermen who were lost at sea sailing out of the port of New Bedford, will be held at 4 p.m. today at the Seamen’s Bethel on Johnny Cake Hill in New Bedford.

Portuguese fishermen have been casting their nets into the seven seas since the fifteenth century, when the great explorers of Portugal began sailing into the unknown looking for new worlds. Since the early twentieth century, fishermen from the region of Figueira da Foz, Portugal have made their way across the Atlantic to fish from the American ports of New Bedord and Gloucester, continuing their long fishing tradition in a new land.

While some returned home to Portugal, many adopted this American seaport as their own, helping the fishing industry to grow through the 1980’s, planting the seeds to the great fishing port of New Bedford which we enjoy today. All set out to harvest the ocean, some never returned.

After signing the Sister City Agreement Protocol in New Bedford City Hall earlier in the day, President of Figueira da Foz, Portugal, João Ataíde will visit the Seamen’s Bethel at 4 p.m. to honor those Portuguese fishermen who were lost at sea after casting off form New Bedford harbor.

The ceremony will include a reading by Joaquim Pereira of the Portuguese epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões, followed by comments from Laura Orleans, Director of the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center. President Joao Ataide will then climb the historic pulpit to speak about the long tradition between these two great seafaring cities. President Ataide will be followed by Rev. David Lima of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford. The service will end with a singing of traditional fado by Ana Vinagre.

Attendees are then invited to walk to the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center on Bethel Street, for a tour of the center, which celebrates New Bedford’s long fishing tradition.