A major marine science hub is coming to New Bedford. State and local officials broke ground Friday for a new $55 million, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Marine Science and Technology building, to join the original SMAST building on Clark's Cove.

When completed in 2017, the new building will house 150 marine scientists, students and support staff working on issues linked to commercial fishing, ocean observation and climate change.

Chancellor Divina Grossman says when the facility is completed, " the Marine Science campus will seek to achieve national recognition for UMass Dartmouth as a research university."

State Senator Mark Montigny says SMAST is important for the future of the commercial fishing industry. "The only hope we have of beating back these unfair federal fishing regulations is with sound science from experts who are as bright or brighter than the people across the table. That's what SMAST does," said Montigny.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said he was open to "anything" the University wanted to do in New Bedford. He says locating universities in cities will attract professionals and boost that city's reputation.

The new building will also include a field office for the Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries. Gov. Baker recently released $30 million in state funding for the project, money that Senator Montigny first sought in 2008.

SMAST Ground-Breaking / Jim Phillips TSM
SMAST Ground-Breaking / Jim Phillips TSM

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420