Katherine Kahl, professor of sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience at the UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station, recently spoke to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce about growing the area’s blue economy. According to Kahl, taking advantage of the ocean’s resources will have both economic and environmental benefits.
From ‘Group looks seaward to grow 'blue economy'’
Katherine Kahl is leading an effort to assess and grow the "blue economy" on the North Shore. Kahl described the blue economy as the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean eco-system health."
The blue economy includes several sectors, from fishing and aquaculture to marine construction, tourism and recreation, marine robotics and coastal resilience.
Kahl gave examples of several businesses that are already a part of the blue economy. SeaTrac is a company in Marblehead that designs and develops remotely controlled unmanned boats that collect ocean data for the defense, energy and environment sectors.
Kahl also pointed to Salem State University's Cat Cove Laboratory, which is using new aquaculture technology to raise mussels seven miles off Cape Ann.
"We bring in the majority of our seafood from foreign sources," she said. "How do we look at opportunities like this to raise more local seafood?"
The North Shore Blue Economy Initiative is in the first year of a 10-year project. The group has hired the UMass-Dartmouth Public Policy Center to do an economic analysis of the North Shore's blue economy.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr said the region must still invest in traditional blue economy sectors like commercial fishing, but said there is "unlimited potential" in other areas like renewable energy and aquaculture.
"If we can map out that blueprint we can make strategic investments at the private level and the public level that are going to make an incredible difference and open up a vast frontier," he said.
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