The North Shore already hosts many of the economic elements needed to build a true "blue economy," but lacks a comprehensive regional economic strategy, according to a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Michael Goodman, speaking Thursday night at Cruiseport Gloucester during a discussion on building a sustainable, marine-based, or blue, economy, said the most successful model for assembling sustainable blue economies requires a regional approach.
The North Shore, he said, has many of the elements needed to sustain a blue economy, such as a skilled workforce, public transportation and the underpinnings of traditional marine and waterfront businesses. But it suffers from a more disparate form of economic development, where communities compete against each other rather than band together.
"I haven't seen an opportunity to connect all the dots," Goodman said at the Cape Ann Innovation Collaborative-sponsored discussion on shaping the future of a blue economy.
The dots include marine construction; living resources such as fish hatcheries, fishing, seafood markets and seafood processing; mineral mining and exploration; ship and boat building and repair; tourism and recreation; and transportation and marine technology.
Goodman echoed state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr when he said the state's inexorable march toward building an offshore wind industry could prove a boon for the varied suppliers needed in massive marine construction projects.
Katie Kahl, the UMass Amherst assistant professor who heads the school's Gloucester Marine Station, asked Ric Upton of Gloucester Innovation for an example of a new idea that would fit within the blue economy, and Upton was ready.
Upton said he has spent the past four months working with the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association and marine consultant Tom Balf, the former executive director at Maritime Gloucester, on a grant proposal to the Seaport Economic Council to turn lobster traps into smart platforms.
The plan, he said, is to place small sensors on each trap that, when pulled aboard, automatically would upload the collected ocean data — such as temperature, salinity and acidity — onto a satellite data network.
"This could help give us a real insight into what our oceans look like," Upton said.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.