Applicants for Saltonstall-Kennedy grants could hear within the next week if their projects will receive any portion of the estimated $5 million to $11 million expected to be doled out by NOAA in this year’s disbursement.
Daniel Namur, NOAA’s Maryland-based program director for the Saltonstall-Kennedy grants, said yesterday that review panels have hit the home stretch of the merit review process for the 261 applications, including 123 from the Northeast region and a half-dozen from Gloucester.
“They’re wrapping up the merit review process as we speak,” Namur said. “The process has been complicated by the fact that there were so many applicants, but we could finalize everything within the next week.”
Namur declined to say what amount ultimately will be dispersed after the review process, which was delayed by more than a month by the partial shutdown of the federal government in October.
The program, designed to fund private and public-private research and development projects that benefit the U.S. fishing industry, is funded from money generated from tariffs paid on foreign seafood imported into the United States.
More than 90 percent of all seafood consumed in this country is imported, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has come under fire from fishermen and fishing advocates for funneling huge portions of those tariff revenues toward funding the agency’s administrative costs rather than to the Saltonstall-Kennedy grant program as stipulated by law.
The Gloucester applicants comprise a variety of innovation-based sources, including Ocean Crest Seafoods, the parent of Neptune’s Harvest, which filed two applications. The first seeks $395,000 to research and develop a commercial process for extracting chitin — a protein found in crustacean shells with several medical and cosmetic uses.
The second application seeks $145,000 to develop a new gel-like lobster and fish bait from liquefied fish.
There are also Gloucester-based applications from Cape Ann Seafoods for new processing equipment for under-utilized fish species, as well as a proposal from a group of whiting fishermen, in conjunction with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, to research possible expansion of the areas open to small-mesh fishermen near the Stellwagen Bank grounds.
Sean Horgan may be contacted at 978-675-2714, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT