Seafood

Rhode Island Sea Grant Extension/URI Coastal Resources Center supports Rhode Island’s commercial fishing and aquaculture communities by providing science- and research-based expertise to the local public and private sector groups that deal with sustainable and local seafood. The program also focuses on seafood safety and health issues in partnership with other Sea Grant programs and universities nationwide, and provides seafood safety trainings (HACCP) for government and professional groups.

PROJECTS

Information on projects may be found on the Seafood Projects website.

RECENT IMPACTS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Over 100 shellfish growers will be developing business plans and seeking permits in the future as a result of a Rhode Island Sea Grant-supported training program aimed at teaching aspiring farmers the science, practice, and tools of the trade for shellfish aquaculture.

Over the last two decades, aquaculture activities in Rhode Island have increased twenty-fold to nearly $6 million with a continually growing interest from prospective growers.

At the request of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Sea Grant collaborated with experts at Roger Williams University (RWU) to develop interactive webinars and an online course, building upon an existing 14-week course at RWU, aimed at teaching aspiring shellfish farmers and aquaculture professionals the science, practice, and tools of the trade for shellfish aquaculture.

The course received positive reviews from the 150 participants with 106 planning to start a shellfish business as a result.

Sea Grant-supported outreach and education programs concerning aquaculture in Rhode Island salt ponds helped the town of Charlestown draft an aquaculture plan to better manage user conflicts amidst the expansion of aquaculture.

The advent and growth of aquaculture in local salt ponds have prompted community tension regarding perceived user conflicts. Rhode Island Sea Grant staff facilitated a series of educational webinars, speaking programs, and field tours to promote dialog about local aquaculture and its future in the salt ponds to help stakeholders and the public understand aquaculture in Rhode Island and how the rules were originally formulated. Information obtained from Rhode Island Sea Grant outreach events was used to draft an aquaculture plan for the Charlestown Harbor Management Plan.

A Rhode Island Sea Grant-supported pilot project has established a quahog research fleet with five commercial shellfishermen to better assess quahog populations in Narragansett Bay in support of maintaining a sustainable fishery for one of Rhode Island’s most valuable resources.

To reduce uncertainties concerning quahog stock assessment due to data limitations and spatial gaps in Narragansett Bay, more information is needed regarding current sampling methods for the areas most valuable fishery. Rhode Island Sea Grant funded a pilot project to develop a quahog research fleet in cooperation with fishermen, scientists, and resource managers to determine a harvester-applied sampling methodology from which collected data would be used to enhance quahog stock assessments.

A quahog research fleet involving five commercial shellfishermen using modern technology to collect environmental and biological data throughout the year has been established. This fleet will cover areas not currently covered by existing surveys and build the capacity to involve local shellfishermen in future coastal monitoring and marine research. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is a project partner, which will enable the use of harvester-collected data into stock assessments used in resource management decision-making.

Rhode Island Sea Grant-supported researchers investigating activities in Rhode Island salt ponds in response to a growing concern over user conflicts developed an inventory map to help coastal managers evaluate resource use, specifically impacts of recreational shellfishing on shellfish resources.

State entities charged with overseeing ecosystem viability and access to Rhode Island’s coastal salt ponds lack high-resolution spatial data on recreational and commercial uses to adequately mitigate perceived user conflicts in response to expanding shellfish aquaculture operations.

Rhode Island Sea Grant funded several researchers at the University of Rhode Island, in collaboration with Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Fish and Wildlife, to investigate commercial and recreational activity in the state’s coastal salt ponds.

Researchers developed an inventory tool to identify types of activities, as well as their frequency and intensity in specific locations, to help coastal managers better evaluate and manage the various uses of Rhode Island salt ponds, specifically recreational shellfishing. Pending analysis of data, the inventory is intended for use by resource managers to help identify and mitigate areas of conflict, particularly between commercial and recreational users.

+ Read more from Sea Grant’s 2014-2016 Research