THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Scott J. Lima is the City Councilor for New Bedford's Ward 5.

 

 

 

 

As America’s most valuable commercial fishing port, New Bedford should be the site of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NFSC).

Congressman Joe Kennedy III recognizes the need to site the NFSC in New Bedford and as a candidate for the U.S. Senate representing Massachusetts, Kennedy has publicly expressed his willingness to work toward that end.

I’ve personally questioned Congressman Kennedy about his willingness to work toward siting a new NFSC in New Bedford and I’ve personally reminded him of the need to do so. If elected to the U.S. Senate, it is my sincere hope that Kennedy will make this one of his first orders of business.

Here’s why.

The Port of New Bedford is a global seafood hub handling millions of pounds of seafood annually. The net result – no pun intended – positions New Bedford at the forefront of America’s commercial fishing industry.

So when commercial fishermen land their catch in New Bedford, they help strengthen New Bedford’s link within the global seafood supply chain and they greatly contribute to the economic engine that drives our city’s economy.

For this reason and a host of other reasons, we need to continue working toward siting the NFSC in New Bedford.

Presently, the U.S. Department of Commerce, working in conjunction with other government agencies - most notably NOAA – is considering a recapitalization plan for the NFSC which is currently located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The recapitalization plan is being considered because the NFSC facility in Woods Hole is antiquated and in need of replacement.

Given New Bedford’s prominence as a global seafood hub with supporting industries and the city’s interest in being home to the NFSC, it is only fitting that NOAA seriously considers relocating the NFSC to New Bedford. Our city is a natural fit for the NFSC, and NOAA should have a larger presence in New Bedford.

If moving the NFSC to New Bedford were to occur, the move would bring 200 federal jobs to our city and it would physically place government scientists within our active and robust commercial fishing community. This would benefit all stakeholders within New Bedford’s fishing community, and it would bring a world-class scientific research facility to our city.

Also, by siting the NFSC in New Bedford, communication between the fishing industry and the U.S. government would improve. NFSC scientists and New Bedford fishermen would no longer be divided by bridges over the Cape Cod Canal. Rather, physically, they would be nearer to one another, enabling them to work more efficiently within America’s premier fishing port.

An opportunity like this – moving an NFSC facility – does not come along often. In fact, the opportunity is rare and the lift heavy.

However, we must not be deterred by the rarity of the opportunity nor the heaviness of the lift. We must look at siting the NFSC in New Bedford as a priority and we must work toward its fruition.

As a New Bedford City Councillor representing Ward 5 and as chair of the City Council Fisheries Committee, I am committed to strengthening our city’s link within the global seafood supply chain.

Congressman Kennedy feels the same. If elected to the U.S. Senate, Kennedy will deliver for New Bedford.

For this reason, I endorse Congressman Joe Kennedy III for the U.S. Senate.

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest blogs from newsmakers across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact tim@wbsm.com for more information. 

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