AUGUSTA — It hasn’t gotten the publicity of the bear-baiting referendum, but the Nov. 4 ballot also includes some bond proposals, including one that would borrow $7 million to help boost seafood processing and other marine businesses.

Question 7 came out of a comprehensive consideration of how state borrowing could boost employment, said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who co-chaired the legislative committee that made the bond proposals.

“We looked for the best and brightest ideas,” he said.

As is common, those ideas and proposals morph through the legislative process. Berry said an early version included funding for genetic and biological research, but they were broken off into separate bond requests (Questions 5 and 6).

The seafood processing bond began as a proposal from Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to provide funding to increase lobster processing facilities in the state, an apparent effort to help great more demand for the product. But those in the industry argued that the number of lobster processing businesses has grown significantly in Maine in recent years, and that funding more facilities would provide an unfair—and unneeded—advantage for some private endeavors.

Berry said his committee “heard a lot about the immense potential that the marine economy has,” and so worked “to really kick start a process that would lead to Maine’s marine economy achieving its best and highest potential.”

The proposal, as it will appear before voters, would offer $7 million in a single award, likely to a consortium of groups, that must include:

The successful applicant, according to the accompanying legislation, must show how it would grow “traditional commercial fishing interests, [the] aquaculture industry, value-added seafood processing and market development for Maine-based products.”

Key to the plan, Berry said, is that the group winning the funding must match it with $7 million. That money could come from a private business in the consortium, or from in-kind services from a university, or a combination of both.

“I can’t overstate the private sector role,” he said, and the matching funds. The proposal was deliberately structured to spur collaborations, he added, because the committee came to see that such partnerships foster innovation.

The funding might be used to address any number of issues, Berry said, such as ocean acidification, the invasive green crabs or creating elver processing facilities.

Aquaculture is included in the terms of the proposal, he said, because it is “absolutely one of the most promising areas for Maine’s fishery economies.” Globally, more farm-raised fish is consumed than wild fish, he said.

Berry cited Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud’s plan to make Maine “the breadbasket of New England” by reviving farms; Maine could become the “fish basket” for New England, he said, by supporting research and development in the marine domain.

The Maine Technology Institute will review the applicants and recommend a winner, Berry said.