GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 26, 2013

NOAA zeroing in on tariff grants

Millions to be given out for research and development

The process for determining the successful applicants for Saltonstall-Kennedy grant funds is entering the final stages of technical review and administrators hope to begin the flow of money to successful candidates sometime in January, NOAA officials said Tuesday.

The review, delayed by almost a month by the partial shutdown of the federal government in October, is being conducted by staffers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and outside technical reviewers with the specific expertise necessary to assess individual grant applications, according to Susan Olsen, a program coordinator in NOAA’s Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester.

According to the federal funding opportunity for the Saltonstall-Kennedy program, the technical review could be supplemented by a constituent panel review before a final determination is made and successful applicants are notified.

The program, designed to fund private and public-private research and development projects that benefit the U.S. fishing industry, drew 261 proposals nationally, all vying for a pool of money that NOAA officials have estimated at between $5 million and $11 million. The money is drawn from federal tariffs paid on seafood imported into the U.S., and nearly 90 percent of all seafood sold in the U.S. is now imported.

There were 123 applicants in the Northeast region, according to Olsen, with a half-dozen applicants from Gloucester alone.

The Gloucester applicants span the range of innovation and entrepreneurship. Ocean Crest Seafoods, the parent company which spawned the highly successful and innovative line of marine-based fertilizers, filed two applications.

The first seeks $395,000 to research and develop a commercial process for extracting chitin — a protein with several medical and cosmetic uses — from lobster and crab shells. The second seeks $145,000 to develop a new gel-like lobster and fish bait from liquefied fish.

Four local whiting fishermen, in conjunction with the Portland, Me.-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Massachusetts Divisions of Marine Fisheries, seeks $200,000 to research the expansion of small-mesh whiting fishing to a currently closed portion of the fishery near the Stellwagen Bank grounds.

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