GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

October 8, 2013

Opinion: Innovative S-K bids deserve funding

With a pot of just $10 million to cover no doubt dozens of applications from fisheries groups and waterfront businesses from around the country, it may not be realistic to expect all seven of the proposals coming out of Gloucester to get federal funding.

But it’s also vital that those deciding where to allocate the tariff dollars from the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act – which would top $100 million if NOAA and the Department of Commerce truly followed the law — give all of these plans a good look. For all of these innovative ideas would fit right in with not only bolstering the fishing industry, but with sparking alternative waterfront growth as well.

One $200,000 proposal, from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, in conjunction with four Gloucester fishermen, would seek to expand the harvesting of whiting off our shores.

And Ocean Crest Seafoods, parent company of the successful Neptune’s Harvest line of marine-based fertilizers, submitted two applications, both of which seek to build on the company’s track record of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The first seeks a little more than $395,000 to research and develop the process and facilities for extracting the versatile chitin from lobster and crab shell walls for later use in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, while another seeks some $145,000 to develop a new type of gel-like lobster and fish bait from liquefied fish.

In a nutshell the plans call for extracting the chitin for pharmaceuticals and to sell to hospitals here in Boston, then taking smaller chunks for fertilizer and the finest particle for feed, noted Ocean Crest/Neptune’s Harvest co-owner Ann Molloy. “We want to do it all right here,” she said — and she’s right. That’s the idea.

Now we can only hope that Commerce officials recognize that as well.

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