Through a show of hands, it was apparent that there was strong relevance of working ports to the full house of attendees at Gloucester’s second Maritime Summit.
People raised their hand if they live in a port community that is undergoing an economic transition, if the work in a port community, and if they rely on a port community for their livelihood.
What happens with working ports such as Gloucester during a time of economic transition is very important, and is something all attendees had in common yet at the same time, the diversity represented at the summit was remarkable.
We had fishermen, scientists, private industry, academic institutions, research organizations, citizens, government partners, and more. We asked ourselves two essential questions: what is the next generation of ocean opportunity? And what is the economic impact in terms of jobs and investments for port cities like Gloucester?
For Gloucester, this journey began as an urgent desire to save our working waterfront, and protect our core industry, the historic fishing industry that has fished out of Gloucester Harbor for 400 years.
We know there is a critical mass of commercial activity that needs to occur in order to protect the assets that make up a working port. We also know that our fleet is vastly smaller than it was just a generation ago. So we’ve begun looking for ways to diversify our economy in ways compatible with the commercial fishing industry.
Our first summit, held in November 2011, sought to define the size and scope of what we were calling the maritime economy – that economy that is compatible with the fishing industry.
We learned that the economic sector known as marine science and technology is $5 billion in New England, $1.8 billion in Mass., and the North of Boston region is second only to Boston in terms of patents granted in the economic sector, and second only to Boston in terms of venture capital coming into the sector. And Gloucester sits squarely in the center of this North of Boston area with all of the port assets that are necessary for gaining access to that next generation of ocean opportunity and economic benefit.