AI generated oil painting in the style of 18th Century artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicting a mid-1970s era fishing boat alongside a pier with fishermen working to bring in the day's catch.

Lawmakers, scientists advocate for Massachusetts ‘blue economy’

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.

by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service

Kathryn Carley began her career in community radio, and is happy to be back, covering the New England region for Public News Service. Getting her start at KFAI in Minneapolis, Carley graduated from the University of Minnesota and then worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, focusing on energy and agriculture. Moving to Washington, D.C., she filed stories for The Pacifica Network News and The Pacifica Report. Later, Carley worked as News Host for New York Public Radio, WNYC as well as Co-Anchor for Newsweek’s long running radio program, Newsweek on Air. Carley also served as News Anchor for New York Times Radio. She now lives near Boston, MA.

Languages Spoken: English

Topic Expertise: education, environment, nuclear energy

Local Expertise: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Wisconsin, Minnesota

Demographic Expertise: public schools, families, children, nutrition

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