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Fish are Gloucester’s past — and its future

As the longtime seaport reinvents itself, the hope is to tie into local maritime history, but with year-round jobs in science and tourism.

Friday, June 10, 2016- Waterfront in Gloucester. For Business story about Gloucester’s transformation from fishing town to tourism and biotech. (Laurie Swope for The Boston Globe)
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With Gloucester’s fishing industry a shadow of its former self, the city is looking to boost its tourist activity and develop a biotech hub.

The nation’s oldest seaport is reinventing itself.

With Gloucester’s fishing industry a shadow of its former self, this city of 30,000 is looking to boost its tourist activity and develop a biotechnology hub.

Philanthropists with Cape Ann ties are helping to usher in Gloucester’s post-fishing economy with the launch of the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, the Gloucester Biotechnology Academy for high school graduates, and the opening of the 94-room Beauport Hotel on the waterfront — the city’s only large-scale hotel and conference space.

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The hope is to continue to tie into local maritime history, but with year-round jobs in science and tourism, and offer new opportunities to a generation whose future isn’t in fishing. Despite the institute’s lack of a permanent home, its researchers have been working on sequencing the genome of cod in the area to develop a better understanding of its population — a hotly debated issue between fishermen and scientists.

The institute recently received $2.7 million in state capital funding for its waterfront marine genomics research laboratory, which could be leased soon and occupied by next year, says executive director Chris Munkholm.

Katheleen Conti is a Globe staff writer. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.