RI Delegation Announces $1.6 Million for RI Sea Grant

Press Release courtesy of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Funds to Help Protect RI Coastal and Marine Resources

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced over $1.6 million in federal funding from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program.

Rhode Island Sea Grant will use the funds to continue work on the state’s Shellfish Management Plan in cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Coastal Resources Management Council.  The funds will also support the development of the Shoreline Management Plan, which is addressing the difficult problems of shoreline erosion and sea level rise.  In addition, with construction of the five wind turbines for Block Island waters underway, Rhode Island Sea Grant will be updating the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which is helping to ensure that the new wind turbines have a minimal effect on existing ocean users like fishermen and recreational boaters.

Quahog fishermen collecting wild harvest in Narragansett Bay

Quahog fishermen collecting wild harvest in Narragansett Bay

“Rhode Island’s coastal habitat and fisheries are an essential part of our culture and economy.  The University of Rhode Island is a national leader in ocean research and conservation, and the Sea Grant program has been a vital partner in carrying out cooperative research and strengthening our coastal communities.  I will continue working to keep federal funding flowing to URI to conduct this important research and protect our oceans,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies, which oversees NOAA funding.

“From our beautiful beaches, to our fisheries, to our busy industrial ports, the ocean is at the core of our way of life here in Rhode Island,” said Senator Whitehouse, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  “By helping Rhode Island Sea Grant find new ways to adapt to the effects of climate change and other forces, this funding will preserve the coastline and waters Rhode Islanders depend on.”

“Preserving our coastline is a priority for Rhode Island’s future, economically, environmentally and for our quality of life,” said Congressman Langevin. “It is our responsibility to do everything possible to protect against the effects of climate change, and coastal erosion in particular, and I am confident that this infusion of funds into the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program will help restore past damage, protect against future challenges and fortify our coastal resources.”

Rhode Island's southern shore

Rhode Island’s southern shore faces challenges from erosion, storm damage, and sea level rise.

“Rhode Island’s natural resources, including almost 400 miles of coastline, attract visitors from across the nation and generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year,” said Congressman Cicilline. “This important federal funding will help provide the resources we need to address challenges like climate change and conserve our state’s natural resources for years to come.”

“We are very grateful for this strong financial support that enables us to sponsor the best research to answer the most significant marine and coastal management problems that face Rhode Island,” noted Rhode Island Sea Grant Director, Dennis Nixon, “Narragansett Bay is an incredible resource for all Rhode Islanders, and this grant will help us understand the changes that are occurring as a result of warming waters and sea level rise.”

Administered by the University of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program supports research, community outreach, and education programs aimed at better understanding and preserving coastal communities and marine environments.  The program focuses on four priority areas: healthy coastal ecosystems; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; resilient communities and economies; and environmental literacy and workforce development.  Recent initiatives have included developing guidelines for offshore energy and commercial ocean development, such as Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan, and protecting important fishing grounds to help preserve the state’s vital fishing industry.

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