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Baker-Polito Administration Announces $3.2 Million for Local Dredging Projects to Enhance Maritime Economy

Posted on July 27, 2022

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $3.2 million in grants to six dredging projects through the Massachusetts Dredging Program, established to promote the strength and sustainability of the Commonwealth’s coastal harbors through support of saltwater dredging. The Dredging Program awards grants on a competitive basis, with a focus on shovel-ready projects that contribute to the economic vitality, recreational value, public safety, and resilience of coastal harbors. Today’s announcement was made at the Chatham Harbormaster Building in Stage Harbor.

“Our administration remains committed to ensuring the strength and capacity of the Commonwealth’s coastal harbors by providing targeted resources to support saltwater dredging,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today we are pleased to commit $3.2 million to help six communities deepen berths or navigational channels, preserving and expanding an immense range of commercial and recreational uses along the Massachusetts coastline.”

“As chair of the Seaport Economic Council, I’ve been proud to collaborate with municipal officials, legislators, and industry leaders from the Commonwealth’s 78 coastal communities on ways to support and improve our waterfronts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Massachusetts Dredging Program provides key funding to help these communities complete shovel-ready dredging projects for the long-term success of our coastal harbors.”

The Massachusetts Dredging Program is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and financed through capital funds authorized under the 2018 Economic Development Bond Bill. Applications for the 2022 grant round were evaluated in collaboration with staff at the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the Seaport Economic Council.

“Working waterfronts comprise the backbone of our maritime economy, so it is essential our coastal communities have the resources they need to maintain and improve their harbors for the benefit of commercial fishermen and other harbor-dependent businesses,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “The grants we’re announcing today will support thousands of moorings and dockage slips across six communities as well as navigation for hundreds of commercial vessels.”

“Up and down our coast, dredging projects have proven necessary for economic development yet difficult for cities and towns to afford on their own,” said Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba. “As of today, the Massachusetts Dredging Program has directed more than $19 million in state resources and leveraged another $25 million in matching funds to advance critical public dredging projects along our shores.”

Today’s grants will support the removal of an estimated 188,000 cubic yards of harbor material, deepening berths or navigational channels in six communities. In 2020, over 38 million pounds of commercial seafood was landed in these communities, generating more than $30 million for the Massachusetts economy. These projects will expand or preserve the use of more than 3,000 moorings and dockage slips, and navigation for more than 450 commercial vessels. Approximately one third of this material will be beneficially reused for the nourishment of public beaches.

“The maintenance of navigable harbors is absolutely essential in seaside towns where countless residents’ livelihoods rely on access to the ocean,” said State Senator Julian Cyr. “Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Truro, and Wellfleet will all benefit immensely from this funding that will be deployed to dredge entrance channels, inlets, and anchorages leading to key harbors. By ensuring harbor accessibility, these grants will support Cape Cod’s blue economy and allow for safe recreational use of our waters.”

“State dredging grants are critically important for the communities on the outer and lower Cape. These harbors are critical to our economy, whether to support the fishing industry, recreational boating, or commercial charter boats. Dredged harbors and channels are also a matter of public safety. When there is a problem on the water and our first responders are called, they need to be able to act swiftly, they cannot wait for the tide,” said State Representative Sarah Peake. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for establishing this program and for awarding grants to Chatham, Harwich, Truro, and Wellfleet totaling $3,073,000.”

“Chatham is once again pleased to receive an award from the Massachusetts Dredging Program,” said Chatham Town Manager Jill R. Goldsmith, ICMA-CM. “Stage Harbor is Chatham’s deep-water port supporting commercial fish off-loading, hundreds of local and transient recreational boaters, and Coast Guard and Harbormaster search and rescue assets. Stage Harbor supports the local and regional blue economies, and today’s grant will keep our harbor safe and accessible.”

With this latest round of grants, since 2019, the Massachusetts Dredging Program has awarded more than $19 million for 28 public dredging projects, tapping into more than $25 million in matching funds. Projects have expanded or preserved the use of more than 8,000 moorings and dockage slips, and navigation for more than 900 commercial vessels. Projects also supported the livelihoods of more than 75 commercial boatyards, marinas, and other harbor-dependent businesses. An estimated one third of all dredged material was beneficially reused for the nourishment of public beaches. An additional 10 grants, totaling almost $3.6 million, were awarded through a pilot round in 2018.

All Massachusetts coastal municipalities are eligible to apply to the Dredging Program. A minimum 50% non-state match is required for any application to be considered. Learn more at

Massachusetts Dredging Program Grant Recipients

Town of Chatham, $500,000
The Town of Chatham will dredge an estimated 30,000 cubic yards of sand from the Stage Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation in the harbor, which operates as the southern hub of the community’s maritime economy and provides a secondary offloading location for the largest fishing fleet on Cape Cod and the third-largest fleet in Massachusetts. Stage Harbor is home to three private marinas, more than 50 commercial fishing vessels, and nearly 1,300 moorings and dockage slips. Almost $17.5 million in commercial seafood was landed town-wide in Chatham in 2020.

Town of Dennis, $87,000
The Town of Dennis will dredge an estimated 15,000 cubic yards of sand from the Sesuit Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation for a wide range of recreational and commercial users, including more than 40 commercial and for-hire fishing boats. Sesuit Harbor is home to a public and private marina as well as two public boat ramps with parking for more than 200 vehicles. Collectively, the marinas serve more than 350 vessels.

Town of Harwich, $48,000
The Town of Harwich will remove an estimated 8,000 cubic yards of sand from the Allen Harbor entrance channel. Dredging will preserve all-tide navigation for commercial and recreational users as well as three search and rescue assets. Allen Harbor hosts six commercial fishing boats and is home to a private marina and more than 160 moorings and dockage slips. More than $5.5 million in commercial seafood was landed town-wide in Harwich in 2020.

City of Newburyport, $40,000
The City of Newburyport will remove approximately 500 cubic yards of material between the federal entrance channel and north jetty of Newburyport Harbor. Current conditions make navigation hazardous during low tides and rough seas and have led to several serious boating accidents in recent years. This project will build on more than $7 million in federal dredging planned for fall 2022. Newburyport Harbor comprises the mouth of the Merrimack River and is home to more than 1,000 moorings and dockage slips, more than 100 for-hire fishing boats, and a state boat ramp with parking for 130 vehicles.

Town of Truro, $25,000
The Town of Truro will remove an estimated 5,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet and approach channels of Pamet Harbor. Shoaling conditions make navigation hazardous during low tides and are exacerbated annually by coastal storms. Dredging will restore all-tide navigation in the harbor, supporting a variety of commercial and recreational users, including lobster boats. More than $500,000 in lobster catch was reported town-wide in Truro in 2019. Pamet Harbor is Truro’s only harbor and provides access to 73 moorings, more than 20 acres of shellfish farms, and a state boat ramp with parking for 30 trailers.

Town of Wellfleet, $2.5 Million
The Town of Wellfleet will remove an estimated 130,000 cubic yards of material from the South Anchorage in Wellfleet Harbor. Current conditions limit access to the anchorage to only a few hours either side of high tide, impacting up to 315 commercial and recreational vessels. Dredging will restore all-tide access to the area while also improving water quality for shellfish propagation. In 2020, Wellfleet Harbor was the number three shell fishing port in Massachusetts, supporting more than 90 private growers, more than 260 acres of shellfish farms, and more than $5.5 million in commercial landings. This project marks the final phase of a comprehensive dredging effort in Wellfleet Harbor, which has included $7.3 million in local and federal dredging since 2017.


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