GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Fishing Industry Stories

October 23, 2013

Shutdown to delay fish grants

NOAA now eyeing late January selections, release

The partial federal shutdown that ended last week remains the gift that just keeps giving — if you’re looking for that frustrating little something for someone special.

A spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed Tuesday that the federal government’s fortnight-plus of relative paralysis will delay the disbursement of Saltonstall-Kennedy grant monies until late January or early February.

The original NOAA timetable for awarding the funds, estimated at between $5 million and $10 million, set Sept. 29 as the deadline for proposals, followed by the review process that was expected to have money flowing into communities by the end of December.

Unfortunately for the 261 Saltonstall-Kennedy applicants nationwide — including 124 from the Northeast and a half-dozen from Gloucester — the deadline came two days before the federal government virtually ground to a halt.

“NOAA was unable to begin the review process immediately because of the shutdown,” agency spokeswoman Monica Allen said Tuesday. “So this will slow the process. Now our plan and our hope is to notify grant recipients by late January or early February.”

In a followup email to the Times, Allen said NOAA’s fiscal 2013 budget included about $11 million for the national Saltonstall-Kennedy grant program. The legislative act that created that program requires “60 percent of these funds be distributed in the form of external grants and we fully intend to exceed that,” Allen wrote.

That is good news for the Gloucester applicants, whose proposals run the gamut of innovation and entrepreneurship, often in partnership with academic institutions such as Salem State University, Endicott College and the University of Massachusetts.

The Gloucester-based applicants include Ocean Crest Seafoods, parent company of the successful line of Neptune’s Harvest marine-based fertilizers, which filed two proposals.

The first seeks $395,000 to research and develop a commercial process for extracting chitin — which has several medical and cosmetic uses — from lobster and crab shells.

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