The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is zeroing in on a new home for its Northeast Fisheries Science Center, a mainstay in the culture and economy of Woods Hole. The federal agency said last week that it has narrowed its search to Barnstable County, which includes all of the Cape, and would keep the center closer to research partners in the area.

NOAA began assessing its Woods Hole complex more than a year ago, in light of dwindling office and laboratory space and other concerns. As a first step, a feasibility study is expected to be completed this summer or fall, although a final decision about whether and where to relocate is likely years down the road.

But NOAA representative Teri Frady told the Gazette that the process is moving forward.

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