No one thinks much about commercial swordfishing and the Port of New Bedford, but 50 years ago or so, that line of work was fairly prominent on the waterfront.

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, located at 38 Bethel Street, is reviving those memories with a new exhibit, "Stand Clear the Line: Swordfishing on the SouthCoast."

The free exhibit opens on April 11 (AHA! Night) at 5 p.m.

Programs manager Joe Ritter stopped by Townsquare Sunday to preview the exhibit and outline other programs during the months of April and May, plus a summer surprise.

"At one time, swordfishing was a remarkably popular fishery here," Ritter said. "Fishermen have been hunting swordfish in this area, primarily with harpoons, for over 200 years, until it transitioned into a long-line fishery in the middle of the 20th century."

Ritter said many of the fishermen who helped with the exhibit also went after swordfish back in the day.

"We're going to have a number of photos, artifacts, and media displays for people to explore the change of gear and technology used by local fishermen as they transitioned from harpooning to long-lining," he said.

The opening reception will be followed on April 11 with a roundtable discussion on swordfishing, featuring fishermen who hunted swordfish out of New Bedford.

Again, the presentation is free and open to the public.

Other programs at the Fishing Heritage Center include "Into the Archives" on May 9 (AHA! Night), from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The public is invited to check out a part of the center's archives, mostly photographs of life on the waterfront during the 20th and 21st centuries. This is also a free event.

What about that summer surprise?

Ritter said the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is teaming with the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey to offer three public sails on June 29, July 19 and August 16. The Schooner will depart the New Bedford State Pier at 6 p.m. and arrive back around 8:30 p.m.  Tickets will go on sail in May.

Keep checking the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center website for more information.

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