UMass awarded $277K to help fishing industry

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo/The University of Massachusetts system, which includes UMass Amherst's Gloucester Marine Station at Hodgkins Cove, received a $276,854 grant from Seaport Economic Council to identify economic growth opportunities for the state's commercial fishing industry.

The city of Gloucester, which received a $1 million grant to renovate its harbormaster offices and construct a new visiting boater center at that site, wasn't the only Cape Ann beneficiary of the Seaport Economic Council's largesse on Wednesday.

The University of Massachusetts system, which includes UMass Amherst's Gloucester Marine Station at Hodgkins Cove, received a $276,854 grant from the council to identify economic growth opportunities for the Massachusetts commercial fishing industry.

The university system's proposal, developed by UMass Amherst's Department of Environmental Conservation and UMass Boston's Urban Harbors Institute, is designed to "build momentum and focus resources to help one of the critical industries for the Commonwealth to benefit coastal communities," according to Adrian Jordaan, a professor of fish population ecology and conservation at UMass Amherst and the director of Gloucester Marine Station.

In awarding the grant, the Seaport Economic Council touted the UMass system's ability to "leverage the diverse expertise and research capacity of its five campuses to take an innovative, multidisciplinary approach" in addressing habitat, fishery management, marketing and economic forces.

"In doing so, Massachusetts will be able to improve its fishing industry by both reinvigorating traditional components of the system, including diversifying catches and increasing consumption of locally caught fish," the council stated in awarding the grant.

It said the grant will enable the UMass system to focus on emerging segments of the developing seafood system incubator, such as value-added products, waste recovery, fuel-efficient vessels, environmental restoration and other initiatives.

"Given the serious challenges facing our commercial fishing industry, it makes good sense to fully engage the expertise and research capabilities of UMass to help those who depend on fishing to chart a course not only to survival, but to sustainability and prosperity," state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester said in a statement. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.