Gloucester, Mass. – The city of Gloucester, Massachusetts was awarded Rural Business Development Grant to support their Gloucester Fresh initiative. Gloucester Fresh is an innovative program to promote the local, sustainable seafood businesses in Gloucester and support ocean-to-table supply systems.

“It is my great pleasure to announce a $20,000 Rural Business Development Grant to the City of Gloucester. This grant will further the wonderful work associated with the “Gloucester Fresh” initiative. It will promote local quality seafood and preserve employment in Gloucester’s historically and economically significant seafood industry,” said Scott J. Soares, USDARural Development’s State Director for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Gloucester has been a fishing village for almost 400 years and has had its share of prosperity and decline and in that time. The success of the town has been directly linked to the success of the local fisheries. While it has seen a measure of stability due to renewed interest in local fresh fish, this initiative seeks to preserve rural business and jobs.

Gloucester Fresh supports “America’ oldest fishing port” by bringing new attention to the many fish markets available that supply local fresh seafood. The program will help local fishermen, some of whom are fifth and sixth generation, and markets that have a long tradition of providing quality fresh fish, shell fish and value added seafood products.

“People want fresh, delicious, nutritious and sustainable food; this perfectly aligns with the Gloucester Fresh movement. Having the support of the USDA is further confirmation that Gloucester’s collaborative approach with fisherman, restaurants, retailers and governments at the local, state and federal levels is working,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “Gloucester, America’s oldest fishing seaport, is also the home of the best approach to bringing the ocean-to-table idea to consumers.”

Another aspect of the Gloucester Fresh initiative is to create a market for less common and less expensive types of seafood. Whiting, dogfish and other fish that are abundant in the North Atlantic Ocean are available but are not as well-known. Common varieties often end up being imported, Gloucester Fresh wants to highlight local species. To accomplish this they will showcase some of these varieties in their educational commercial kitchen.

“Gloucester is thrilled to receive this USDA grant, which will help support our fishing community through exciting and innovative seafood developments,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “Building this state of the art kitchen will showcase how Gloucester’s freshest catches can be used in a variety of ways across the globe. By educating people firsthand through testing and demonstrations, we will build on the success found through the Gloucester Fresh program which supports our heritage and economy. The City of Gloucester is proud to work with the United States Department of Agriculture and USDA State Director Scott Soares to ensure that local and sustainable working landscapes, including seafood, remains a top priority.”

Through a suite of community, business and housing programs, USDA Rural Development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Rural Development offers loans, grants and loan guarantees that support essential services associated with single and multi-family housing, economic development, health care, first responder services and equipment, water, as well as electric and communications infrastructure.