Today's edition of The Mayor's Desk, usually featuring Mayor Carolyn Kirk, is a special guest column by Sarah Garcia, the city of Gloucester's director of harbor planning.
They are calling it the "Wired Ocean."
Increasingly, as we look out across the glinting sea, we are also gazing out across a networked system of ocean observing, prediction, and management.
The new systems predict the tsunamis and plate tectonic shifts, measure temperatures and currents, and map the ocean floor. Biomass measurements taken by plankton trawls now can be done with automated underwater vehicles and surface drones. Scientists are studying algae blooms and climate change, reassessing cost benefits of desalinization and trying to understand and protect the fisheries.
This research drives markets and innovation in technology industries — electronics, seals and gaskets, specialized optics, precision machining, high pressure materials, and sophisticated computer technology — companies with talents like Bomco, Varian, Gloucester Engineering, Anchor Seal, and Rose's Marine.
The City of Gloucester hosted a Maritime Summit last November in collaboration with both state and federal agencies which brought our economic development work into a whole new field. I encourage you to visit the Harbor Planning and Development webpage on the city site where you can see these presentations.
Presenters from all over the North Shore as well as from the South Shore, Canada, and California shared cutting-edge research. What we saw is a maritime economy undergoing seismic shifts as global challenges create new approaches and intensity.
We discovered that Massachusetts and California are the premier locations in the nation for marine research and technology development. Gloucester is not only landing the 10th largest volume and value of fresh fish in the nation, but it is also embedded in a Marine Science and Technology industry cluster that is valued at $4.8 billion in our region alone. Take a look at the biographies of the speakers at the Summit included as Appendix D in the report on our website. Without hyperbole, the caliber of people attracted to Gloucester's maritime economy is world-class.
The city has formed a Maritime Economy working group of citizens, businesses, and nonprofit organizations engaged in maritime research and economic development that is committed to nurturing the growth of this sector. A senior member of the Endicott College staff is soon to join the working group. We also have an engaged Fisheries Commission to provide guidance and collaboration as we move forward.
The welcome mat has been laid with a cleaned up and development-ready I-4, C-2 and a HarborWalk that showcases our cultural assets — from our stories and history to the arts, music, and film innovation happening here.
Countries around the world are heavily investing in having a competitive advantage in the maritime economy, recognizing that the 70 percent of the globe covered in water is going to be a key part of sustaining the 30 percent on land.
It seems to me that our Maritime Economy vision statement, initially drafted at our Summit by MacArthur fellow and founder of Ocean Alliance, Dr. Roger Payne, holds the three things my father always said was necessary for a happy heart: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
Gloucester stands on the edge of humanity's newest frontier: the ocean. Gloucester is the next go-to place for connecting research and advanced technologies to the sustainable harvesting of the many underutilized benefits the sea offers.
We are a full-service port with the longest history of commercial fishing in North America. Our unique ocean-centered culture stands ready to support the development of innovative and sustainable marine industries.
Sarah Garcia is harbor planning director for the city of Gloucester.