New Bedford Light reporter Will Sennott’s deep investigation into how foreign private equity is taking over New Bedford’s lucrative waterfront sparked passionate and often angry responses from ordinary citizens.

The article, written in partnership with ProPublica, uncovers a business model that undercuts fishermen and shifts control of the waterfront out of New Bedford.


Following is a collection of email and social media reaction:

“I always learn so much reading The New Bedford Light. The title really lives up to the name, as it truly sheds a light on issues of importance to our community.

Will Sennott’s article on the fishing industry’s rapid takeover by private equity firms was most informative. This is a development that should concern all of us. 

New Bedford’s hard-working, devoted fishermen have been the backbone of our economy for generations. What hurts them and their families, hurts me.

Folks are complaining now about the high price of fish and scallops, but it will only get worse. And, personally, I think putting the squeeze on the very people who do the backbreaking work is unconscionable.

Corporate greed at its best.

The question is, ‘Who has the power to stop this practice, and can it realistically be stopped?’”

Dawn Blake Souza, retired educator and New Bedford Public Schools principal, via email

“Maior respect for Will Sennott and his team at The New Bedford Light for this deep dive into private equity ownership of Northeast fishing — and the concomitant exploitation and devastation caused to fisherman. A crime and a nightmare, all perfectly legal.”

Linda B @LindaSue1226, via Twitter

“Cripes. 7 cents a pound pay for working a 20-hour day, 10 days in a row? This is a disgrace.”

— Ellen Gordon, via Facebook

“Real journalism … interesting changes to the New Bedford fishing fleet.”

— Rick Mignone, via Facebook

“This @willsennott and @NewBedfordLight piece on how private equity firms and foreign investors like the Brenninkmeijer family, living in moated castles in Germany, have taken over much of New England’s fishing industry for @propublica, is something else #fishing.”

— Aleksander @aleksanderrr_, via Twitter

“This sounds horrifying.”

— Wendella Like, via Facebook

“Are we screwed as small boat owners?”

— shreddabros04, via Instagram

“Private equity owns everything with very little regulatory oversight and extremely generous tax treatment. #TaxWealth.”

— JO @JO_loves_coffee, via Twitter

“The problem isn’t foreign ownership. It’s exploitation of workers actually bringing in the catch. The same disparity is often found with farmers & ranchers throughout the US.”

— Lawrence Eliezer Finkelstein, via Facebook

“Sounds a lot like what the processors did to hog farmers in the late 20th century.”

— Pooterhead Pharms @PooterheadPharm, via Twitter

“An altogether stunning piece by Will Sennott. Heroic reporting.”

— Sam Allis, via email

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“Relying on greed as the foundation of an economy has its own price.”

— Thomas Hurd Jr., via Facebook

“Fishermen have had a tough enough life.”

— Wizard @fmc21369, via Twitter

“Pure American capitalism at its finest.”

— Mike Conley, via Facebook

“Corporate greed is part of every industry and it hurts the workers.”

— Juanita Suarez Pankow, via Facebook

“What a fantastic piece of journalism! Kudos to all of you.”

— Truth Seeker @MBhushaan, via Twitter

“‘Benefit from lax antitrust rules and pass costs on to local fishermen.’ That sounds like the typical business model across all industries, including utility companies.”

— Kessie Love, via Facebook

“Horrible but entirely predictable.”

— Sharkgiantoak, via Instagram

“How do we fix this? This isn’t fair.”

— Constitution First @allan9197 , via Twitter

“In NH, known for its corporate friendly policies and hatred for regulations, utility rates will double, while they do far less in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts. Freedom costs.”

— Steve William Lindsey, via Facebook

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“The enemy isn’t communism, it’s unrestrained capitalism. Adam Smith in The Wealth Of Nations (the bible of conservatives) warned that unrestrained capitalism would result in monopoly. Every sector of our economy is now controlled by a handful of mega corporations, who no longer compete with each other. These are monopolies of collusion. So much for the conservatives’ mantra: ‘Let the market decide.’ There is no longer a ‘market deciding.’ There are just monopolies of collusion maintaining their markets for the greatest profits, and continued dominance of their segment of the economy. So prices and profits continue to rise; the real cause of inflation. And yet, we never hear the words (from the Mainstream Media, nor our elected public servants) ‘restraint of trade violations.’”

— M Guy Ross, via Facebook

“Effen oligarchs.”

— Mike Musgrave, via Facebook

“From the Chinese playbook … when they bought Smithfield pigs.”

— Patty O’Connor, via Facebook

“fuq private equity.”

— Muriel Strand, via Facebook

“No guardrails, people will abuse the system … SMH.”

— Juan Sanchez, via Facebook

 “That’s just dirty.”

— Sheri Hebert, via Facebook

“Sad selling out to these bastards that don’t care about this area or those who work in the industry. Sad.”

— Eric Francis, via Facebook

“Great reporting.”

— Mary C Serreze, via Facebook

“Private equity: Doing 37% of mergers and acquisitions in 2021. Conditions reminiscent of coal workers in a company owned town. Little government oversight. Good for the company, not so much for the fishermen.”

— Donald Glass, via Facebook

“Excellent story.”

— Annie Atherton, via Facebook

“Outstanding investigative work on New Bedford’s fishing industry. Kudos to New Bedford Light Reporter Will Sennott and founding editor Bobbie Roessner.”

— Lynne DeLucia Millea, via Facebook

“Very disturbing.”

— Susan Quirk, via Facebook

“Richest seaport, but tons of low wage workers. All the big money flows out of the city. An excellent article.”

— Leonard Montenegro, via Facebook

“What a shame that was not exposed when they purchased the boats. Hopefully they will be stopped from buying more boats.”

— Charlotte Berman, via Facebook


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