Lawmakers and scientists in Massachusetts are working to bolster the state’s growing “blue economy.”
Several pieces of legislation aim to create a “blue workforce pipeline” in marine biotechnology, commercial fishing and more.
Wally Fulweiler, professor of earth, environment and biology at Boston University, said a healthy ocean makes for healthier coastal communities and “blue jobs,” such as oyster reef restoration will stick around as long as coastal ecosystems are cared for.
“Humans are part of the system, and I think we have to figure out a way that we can all kind of work within that system,” Fulweiler urged. “I think oyster aquaculture is one way forward there.”
Fulweiler pointed out oysters improve water quality, provide food and support livelihoods. Currently valued at more than $8 billion, the state’s blue economy grew nearly 40% over the past decade.
Lawmakers hope to create more pathways for students interested in ocean-related careers, including more educational grants to remove some of the financial and technical barriers to accessing the ocean sciences. Fulweiler stressed tackling the challenge of climate change and its effects on our oceans will take an all-hands-on-deck approach.
“If we can lower that entry point — basically not use technology as a gatekeeper — I think we might get a better understanding of how ecosystems work,” Fulweiler contended. “We may be able to get more voices and ideas to the table.”
Fulweiler added new voices could help ensure emerging technologies, including offshore wind energy and large-scale fishing, can minimize any ecological harm.
This story was produced with original reporting from Ethan Brown for The Sweaty Penguin.