MA South Coast Aquaculture

Opportunities for Aquaculture on the Massachusetts South Coast: A Sector Analysis

Purpose of the Study:

CEI was contracted by the Garfield Foundation and Santander Bank to perform a sector analysis of the current and future economic opportunities for sustainable aquaculture specific to the South Coast of Massachusetts.  This area is comprised of the City of New Bedford and the towns of Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett, Wareham and Westport. This growing and emerging industry holds potential for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the South Coast and is an area of interest for future job growth and economic prosperity for the region.


CEI staff spent several months researching online resources and publications to better acquaint ourselves with the Massachusetts aquaculture industry. We were tasked with reviewing the following information:

  • Inshore & offshore commercial fisheries based on the South Coast
  • Previous studies of aquaculture relevant to economic opportunities on the South Coast
  • The types and sizes of aquaculture developing on the South Coast
  • The number of companies, locations, species grown, size of operations
  • State and municipal leasing, permitting and oversight structure
  • Spatial availability for future aquaculture lease sites
  • Competing uses, commercial and recreational
  • Barriers to growth for the aquaculture sector
  • Types of aquaculture in nearby regions

In addition to online research we were tasked to engage and interview key stakeholders in the South Coast, including visits to harbormasters and shellfish growers who live and work in the South Coast towns of Massachusetts to better understand the current aquaculture landscape. We also had several conversations with other experts including municipal and state employees, non-profit entities, equipment suppliers, financiers and economic development professionals. All participants were contacted and provided an opportunity to review a draft of this publication prior to release its final release.

Useful Outcomes:

This document is intended to lay a foundation for regional stakeholders and communities to consider several possible initiatives that we believe could contribute to the expansion and economic growth of aquaculture in the South Coast region. These outputs could include short-term and long-term initiatives, such as:

  • The report can stimulate a platform for local people to initiate new businesses in sustainable aquaculture.
  • Encourage cooperation among industry policy groups to assist in shaping current and future aquaculture policy for MA.
  • Implement a regional aquaculture and fisheries strategy to invest in sustainable aquaculture and commercial fishing practices.
  • Promote and continue to deliver educational and technical assistance to fishermen and other new entrants to aquaculture.
  • Provide business assistance for job creation and the expansion of economic opportunity for regional aquaculturists and wild harvest fishermen.
  • Create clusters of community aquaculture businesses drawing the attention of fishermen and infrastructure support businesses to the growing opportunities.
  • Contribute to the local economies of Massachusetts’ coastal communities by offering an alternative livelihood or supplemental economic activity for coastal people.
  • Increase the resiliency of coastal communities to a changing ocean ecosystem by creating an alternative economic opportunity as well as an alternative to more traditional wild harvesting practices.
  • Improve the quality of life in coastal communities that serves as an example both in New England and nationally.