On Wednesday evening I was privileged to address the Foreign Relations Committee of Providence on the economics of the oceans.
I mentioned that no passport is needed to cross the border into Connecticut!
During the talk I explained that there are six sectors to the national and regional ocean economy:
• Fishing and Living Resources
• Ship Building
A recent report from NOAA indicates that 14% of United States counties, all adjacent to the U.S. coastline, produce 45% of the gross domestic product of the nation. Approximately 3 million jobs in the United States or 1/6 of all employment are ocean related.
Ninety five percent of all goods that come into our nation, from food to automobiles, arrive by ship. The ocean economy totals $2.5 trillion in annual activity in the United States.
Each of these sectors are key growth areas for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Tourism represents $3 billion of the Rhode Island economy. Construction along the coastline continues to occur at a steady pace. Activity at ports, including New Haven, New London, Quonset and Providence is growing.
Ship building, especially the construction of submarines at Electric Boat in New London and Quonset is essential to our economies. In both states ship repair is a major business. In New London, for example, the Thames Shipyard has rebuilt New York City fireboats, tugboats, passenger ferries and commercial ships. It occupies five acres of waterfront near the United States Coast Guard Academy.
The talk was also a good opportunity to reflect on the intricate connection between Mystic Aquarium and the State of Rhode Island. Approximately 50 employees and 160 volunteers are Rhode Island residents.
Mystic Aquarium serves over 41,000 at-risk students from Rhode Island annually, providing free admission and other services. We spend nearly $400,000 annually in media purchases alone in the State of Rhode Island, and welcome more than 126,000 Rhode Island residents each year.
Mystic Aquarium is a major economic driver for the $3 billion tourism industry in Rhode Island. We drive tourism to the southern part of the state and contributes in excess of $10 million in economic impact to each year.
On Tuesday, Senior Vice President for External Affairs Andy Wood, Vice President for Education and Conservation Programs Kelly Matis, and I returned from a visit to South East Asia Aquarium (SEA Aquarium) in Singapore where we have an ongoing partnership in animal husbandry, exhibit planning, conservation and education programming.
We were thrilled to learn about the progress being made at SEA Aquarium. During our time at the facility I was able to meet with our Trustee, Tan Hee Teck, who is Chairman, President and CEO of Genting Singapore. I greatly appreciate his friendship, support and leadership over many years.
With deep appreciation to Trustee Dick Katz, who has provided funding, Mystic Aquarium is pleased to offer the 2017 Sarah Delano Scholarship Opportunity.
The Scholarship is open to current Mystic Aquarium employees, volunteers and interns currently pursuing or planning to pursue a degree, professional certificate or an Association of Zoos and Aquariums training course.
The scholarship is named in memory of Sarah Delano who was a beloved member of our staff, serving in the Fish and Invertebrates area of animal husbandry. She is sorely missed and this is a wonderful tribute to her vivacious personality and dedication to excellence.
The applications are due on May 1, 2017 and may be obtained through Daniel Quinones in the Office of Human Resources at Mystic Aquarium.
See you all soon!