NEW BEDFORD — The city may have slumbered in the pre-dawn hours Friday, but down on the docks it was all rattle and hum.
Lights blazed and diesels growled the length of New Bedford's South Terminal as scallop boats returning from closed-area trips jockeyed for space at the long wharf behind the fish houses.
The Miss Maude, the Apollo, the Ocean Queen and the Nordic Pride were among the first boats home from the closed areas on Georges Bank that opened to scallop fishing at midnight last Sunday.
The decision by fishery regulators to allow entry on Aug. 1 sparked a mass exodus from the waterfront last weekend, with practically the entire fleet leaving port. Friday's intense activity on the waterfront will continue as the remainder of the boats are expected to land their catch over the next several days.
"It's going to be a zoo here all weekend," said Sgt. Pat Moran, of the Environmental Police, who worked the early shift on the waterfront.
Moran looked on as muslin bags bursting with scallops whizzed across the scale at the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction.
The Nordic Pride tied up at the auction just before 5 a.m. to unload the 18,000 pounds of scallops allotted each permit holder.