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October 5, 2013

City has 7 bids in for waterfront fed aid

One proposal calls for expanding the nearby whiting fishery and elevating that seafood’s culinary profile.

Another seeks to experiment with methods of growing new shellfish in Massachusetts waters, and a third looks to take advantage of the exploding international medical market for the chitin that comes from lobster and crab shells.

Those are just a few of the more than a half-dozen grant proposals assembled by Gloucester-based maritime entrepreneurs and partnerships in pursuit of federal fishing monies under a new Saltonstall-Kennedy Act grant program.

Considered collectively, the proposals are as varied as they are innovative, offering a glimpse of some of the commercial forces that may help shape Gloucester’s waterfront as the city moves in earnest into the wide curve of the 21st century.

“It’s really exciting to see this kind of energy and these kinds of ideas coming out of Gloucester,” said Sarah Garcia, the city’s harbor planner. “These people worked really hard on these applications and it shows.”

The deadline for the grant applications was last Sunday, and the Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA and the grant program, had said that successful candidates would begin receiving funds in January 2014.

That schedule now is in flux. The review process for awarding the money — projected at between $5 million and $10 million — is held hostage by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

But the specter of a delay, while disappointing, still doesn’t diminish the breadth of the local proposals.

Some of the applications look to expand current business models into new markets. Some look to create new markets and some — such as the proposal by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, in conjunction with four Gloucester fishermen — looks to more efficiently take advantage of traditional commercial fishing.

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