The boats you see in the harbor today are mostly commercial fishing vessels - primarily draggers and scallopers; the whaling barks of the past have long since vanished. By the 1930s, just as whaling faded and the textile industry fled to the South, a new fishing industry came to New Bedford's port. With the advent of refrigerated trucks and a growing number of fish dealers, fishermen from this region, Maine, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, along with Norwegian and Portuguese immigrants, began to drag the Atlantic for scallops and flounder.
Men like Norwegian-born Rasmus Tonnessen helped establish the scallop fishery here, opening the New Bedford Ship Supply in 1935. Other fishing-related companies found a niche here too, like a fileting operation responding to a new trend: homeowners no longer wanting to buy and cook fish whole. With hard work and ingenuity, a modern fishing industry came of age.
On the draggers in particular they were Newfoundlanders and Nova Scotians.... The guys that were scalloping at that time were mostly from Maine, and shortly thereafter we had some Norwegian people come from Brooklyn, New York, bringing their boats here to try fishing.
Howard W. Nickerson, 1998