Welcome to the first New Bedford Ocean Cluster monthly newsletter!

Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Jennifer Downing, and this year the Board of Directors invited me to become the first Executive Director of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster. It is an honor and privilege to guide this organization and help advance greater New Bedford’s ocean economy. 

As part of our mission to bring together all the maritime interests in and around the Port of New Bedford, and throughout the Massachusetts region, the New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC) will be sharing news of interest, happenings of note, and member information each month going forward. 

If you’re new to the Ocean Cluster concept, here’s a quick refresher:

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster is a nonprofit organization formed to align the maritime interests of the city and region under one umbrella organization. The four pillars of the NBOC are Commercial Fishing and Seafood Processing; Aquaculture; Offshore Renewable Energy; and Innovation and Technology

In addition to the four pillars of the NBOC, I’d like to acknowledge a fifth: People. As in you – NBOC partners, supporters and followers. 

This unique ecosystem of marine businesses and workforce distinguishes our region and is the foundation of its economy and culture. It includes our economic development agencies working to advance policies and programs to strengthen our blue economy, and the entrepreneurs and academic institutions pushing the boundaries of marine innovation into the future. 

The NBOC is something we are all very much building together. Our foundation is the historic Port of New Bedford. At this place, we are building on centuries of maritime trade and industry in an entirely new way, but based upon lasting values of collaboration and cooperation.

The NBOC is patterned after successful ocean clusters around the world. It directly traces its lineage to the game-changing Iceland Ocean Cluster, which pioneered the model.

In fact, several years ago the NBOC and Iceland Ocean Cluster established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote network building and collaboration among maritime businesses and entrepreneurs,

In  June, the NBOC signed a second MOU with the Belgium Blue Cluster signaling our intention to collaborate and share best practices. 

These important partnerships serve to increase New Bedford’s  competitiveness and global reach. 

Working together into the future, whether around the corner or around the globe, the NBOC seeks to pursue the strategies that will ensure the Port of New Bedford remains the highest value fishery in the nation. It’s managed that astounding achievement for 21 consecutive years – and that fact both informs and defines our work. 

The NBOC is also dedicated to seizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the birth of the offshore wind industry represents for New Bedford, Massachusetts and the nation. Already, the country’s first commercial-scale wind farm is being built utilizing the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, soon to be joined by New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal. We aspire to make the NBOC a powerful tool to attract ever-increasing investment in offshore wind, creating jobs and opportunities in this community for decades to come. 

Aquaculture is a burgeoning field of marine harvesting that has yet to find strong purchase in our waters, but holds immense promise that needs to be explored. And, as we all know, technological innovation has transformed our lives and economy in fundamental ways. Embracing blue technology isn’t an option – it’s critical to riding the waves of tomorrow. 

Today, I’m thrilled to invite you to the very first annual meeting of the NBOC. It will take place on Wednesday, October 12 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  It’s an occasion to bring us all together and chart a course for the NBOC we are building. Bring your questions, ideas, and passion for this unique idea we are turning into reality at the fabled Port of New Bedford.

Until we meet, below you’ll find recent news of interest, curated events, and other information of importance to our shared New Bedford Ocean Cluster. 

Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director


The New Bedford Ocean Cluster maintains an ongoing social media presence on Facebook and LInkedIn. You can “Like” and “Follow” each page to receive news updates throughout the month between newsletters. #NBOC #newbedfordoceancluster


The New Bedford Ocean Cluster, in partnership with Vineyard Wind, has launched Act Local. It’s a program designed to maximize the positive economic impacts of the Vineyard Wind 1 project in the greater New Bedford region by encouraging local business participation in the offshore wind industry. The program is part of Vineyard Wind’s commitment to Look Local First in support of its Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm. Learn more at this link on the NBOC website.


FEATURE STORY: Southcoast Today/The New Bedford Standard-Times has written a comprehensive look at the work of the NBOC. “Everything we’re doing is with the goal of creating local wealth, new jobs, and a talented and active marine workforce,” – says Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director in the article.  “(The) NBOC is working to understand where supply chain gaps exist in New Bedford and across the U.S.” Read the entire feature at this link.

A NEW DIRECTOR at the NEW BEDFORD PORT AUTHORITY: Gordon Carr, former Deputy Director of Real Estate Strategy and Policy at the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), has been chosen as the next Executive Director of the New Bedford Port Authority (NBPA). Carr was selected by the Port Authority Commission from among 39 applicants. Carr is expected to take over in late September. Read the City of New Bedford announcement here

BLUE ECONOMY RESEARCH: UMass Dartmouth recently opened its newest state-of-the-art research, learning and product development laboratory in the School for Marine Science & Technology in New Bedford. The Biodegradability Laboratory supports the development of biodegradable and ocean-safe plastics and other materials by accelerating their path to market with a focus on increasing sustainability. Find out more about it here

NEW FUNDING FOR WATERFRONT RAIL: New Bedford’s Ice Cube Maritime cold storage facility helps to process and store seafood products.”This is a site where because they have rail access they will be able to move their product far more quickly, far more efficiently, far more cost effectively and in the meantime, take trucks off the road,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. WJAR News 10 report here

NOW ONLINE: The Doers Lab is a new initiative at The Communal Space in the City of New Bedford that seeks to connect youth to opportunities for equitable employment in the offshore wind industry in the city and region. Learn all about them and what they do at this link: The Doers Lab

SAFETY FIRST: At a 131-year-old maritime academy along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts, people who will build the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm are learning the skills to stay safe while working around turbines at sea. Boston 25 News has the story here

THE PRINCE OF TIDES: A New Bedford-based company is seeking to harness tidal energy. Its founder and director John Miller is an engineer who’s been studying ocean energy “longer than anyone,” noted John Bullard, president of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster Board of Directors. Full story here.


Sun. Oct. 2 // BUZZARDS BAY WATERSHED RIDE – Need some time off? Enjoy the scenic landscapes of Southeastern Massachusetts in and around New Bedford while supporting the protection of watershed lands and clean water on the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride. Choose your own adventure from the 100-mile, 75-mile, or 35-mile overlapping cycling routes that ride past coastal farmlands, windswept beaches, cranberry bogs, and scenic harbors between Rhode Island and Cape Cod. Register and choose your ride here. 

Wed. Oct. 12 // JOIN THE NEW BEDFORD OCEAN CLUSTER for its first Annual Meeting at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA. The program will include an update on our progress, the election of Officers and Directors, a keynote speaker, and reception with light hors d’oeuvres and spirits. RSVP to this free event by October 6 via THIS LINK

Questions? Email Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director (jennifer.downing@nboceancluster.org)

Thurs. Oct 6 // The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) public comment meeting – As part of its effort to seek out public comment regarding the proposed Revolution Wind project, BOEM will hold a meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway Boulevard, in New Bedford, MA. The input received via this process will inform preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). More information can be found here

Thurs. Oct. 13 // THE NEW BEDFORD PORT AUTHORITY monthly meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. The NBPA office is located at 123 MacArthur. Drive, New Bedford. 

Tues. Oct. 18 & Wed. Oct. 19 // The American Clean Power Association (ACP) WINDPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition takes place in Providence, RI at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Find out more at this link, including exhibit, sponsor and agenda information. 

Wed. Oct. 19 //  The New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) will hold its 2022 Annual Meeting from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Harbor View Gallery at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Light refreshments and networking are on the agenda, along with a look at NBEDC initiatives and a keynote address by Frank Barrows, Senior Advisor for Commemorations  and Anniversaries, National Park Service. RSVP at this link, and follow NBEDC on Facebook for updates.