The history of the SouthEastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center begins in September of 1995 with the publication of the Massachusetts Aquaculture White Paper.
Among the recommendations of the paper were the following:
No. 4 – Bond monies should be directed to Strategic Plan priorities.
No. 47 – Fund a research and innovation center
No. 58 – Establish regional aquaculture demonstrations centers.
Within the Seaport Bond Bill, which passed in 1996, was language that called for the establishment of an aquaculture economic development initiative to be located in Barnstable County. A series of meetings were held at the then Cape Cod Economic Development Council Office (CCEDC) and at the County complex with the purpose to structure the initiative. Through these meetings, an aquaculture center concept evolved. Interest in other areas of the region resulted in the center’s role extending beyond Barnstable County to include Plymouth, Bristol, Nantucket, and Dukes Counties; and in October of 1996 then Lieutenant Governor Paul Celluci and Senator Henri Raushenback announced that $100,000.00 would be available in the upcoming year to develop the center.
The County Commissioners appointed the original thirteen (13) board members on February 7th 1997, and the first board meeting was held on February 18, 1997. The majority of the board is comprised of industry representatives, 5 shellfish, 1 finfish, and the President of the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association (MAA) or his designee. It also includes the Director of Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, the Director of the Economic Development Council, 1 education representative, 1 academic/research representative, 1 environmental representative, and 1 municipal shellfish officer. Three of the original members remain on the board to this day. SEMAC functions under the auspices of Barnstable County, and the Board meets at least twice a year. The budget is administered through the offices of Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.