NEW BEDFORD - Local officials and stakeholders met with Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren Friday to discuss the future of the New Bedford harbor during a luncheon at Seatrade International.

Dredging was a key topic of discussion, as Mayor Jon Mitchell noted it's essential to the future of the city's maritime success.

"If you want to be in the port business, you need to dredge from time to time or else the harbor will silt up," Mitchell said. "We consider ourselves to be a serious port and we have to tend to that very important maintenance."

Warren said she believes dredging will bring greater opportunity to the region and the state as a whole.

"We heard example after example of what it will mean if we can get proper dredging," said Warren. "New businesses, expanded businesses, more opportunities, that's what we want to see in New Bedford and that's what we want to see in Massachusetts."

According to the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission, future dredging projects could add nearly 900 permanent jobs and over $11 million in state and local tax revenue.

Other topics included the marine monument designation process and improvements to infrastructure.

Following the luncheon, attendees were taken on a tour of the processing plant where they caught a glimpse of the work that goes into preparing local scallops.