What We Do
Rhode Island Sea Grant is one of 34 programs in the National Sea Grant College Program working to enhance environmental stewardship and long-term economic development and responsible use of coastal and marine resources.
Located at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Rhode Island Sea Grant supports research, outreach, and education programs designed to foster the resiliency of local and regional communities and marine environments.
Rhode Island Sea Grant also partners with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center for our extension program, and with the Roger Williams University (RWU) School of Law on our legal program, located at the Marine Affairs Institute at RWU.
Our Vision & Mission
Vibrant and resilient coastal communities, economies, and environments
that are supported by a diverse, engaged, and informed public and decision-makers. We strive to achieve this through integrated research, extension, communications, legal, and workforce development efforts that improve understanding of, sustainable use, and equitable management of Rhode Island’s coastal and marine ecosystems.
High scientific standards that ensure rigorous scientific inquiry and best practices.
Equal access to opportunities and resources for individuals, groups, and organizations interested in marine resource management and ecological health.
Impartial and transparent interpretation of and access to scientific information, technical assistance, and policy research.
Activities and engagement opportunities that instill stewardship and understanding of the marine environment for informed decision-making.
Stewardship & Local Knowledge
Marine resource conservation and inclusion of local knowledge and practices into scientific and management endeavors.
Responsibility for professional behavior and decisions through continuable engagement with coastal communities.
Stong partnerships and networks that connect with all individuals, especially those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.
Support and encourage growth in staff and partners.
Our Committment to All Communities
Rhode Island Sea Grant honors and respects differences in background, experiences, skills, interests, and values.
We incorporate core values of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice into our daily operations and model these values to advance our mission of improving the understanding and management of coastal and ocean systems.
Sea Grant found its roots in Rhode Island after the idea was first proposed in 1963 by Athelstan Spilhaus from Minnesota University. Dr. John A. Knauss, founding Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell helped Spilhaus make Sea Grant a reality.
The idea of creating Sea Grant colleges was modeled after the Land Grant college program–which utilizes the resources of U.S. universities to address agricultural and land-use challenges–but with a focus on marine and coastal resources.
“[Sea Grant] found fertile soil in Rhode Island where we believed we were already doing much of what Spilhaus was proposing,” said Knauss in the 2000 issue of Maritimes, reflecting on his beginnings of GSO. “The Sea Grant Act was passed in 1966. URI received one of the first grants in 1968 and became one of the first four Sea Grant Colleges in 1972.”
The National Sea Grant College Act established Sea Grant as an academic/industry/government partnership with the idea that the program could help communities better understand and utilize coastal and marine resources for energy, development, and food. Today, the program continues to work to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy, with an emphasis on sustainable use of resources and resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Sea Grant now has 34 programs based at universities and institutions in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, and Guam working with communities to provide scientific research, education and training, and technical assistance on coastal and ocean issues.
As Knauss looked to the future over two decades ago, his words were prescient.
“I believe the oceans and the 70% of the earth that is underwater will play an increasingly important role in providing a variety of resources, including energy and fresh water, to an increasing population. Perhaps even more important is that environmental stresses will also grow in the next century,” he said in Maritimes. “Many of these issues concern the ocean and our need to better understand its role: changing sea-level, coastal pollution, modifying the earth’s climate, maintaining the current atmospheric chemical balance, and much more.”
What We Do
Fund competitive research to improve knowledge of marine processes and resources for better understanding and management.
Provide opportunities for students and the public to enhance their understanding of coastal and ocean resources management, science, law, and policy.
Offer public programs, and training and resources for professionals to best apply available science and information to resolve coastal and ocean management challenges.
Sea Grant invests in high-priority research, addressing issues such as coastal hazards and development in coastal communities; understanding our interactions with the marine environment; aquaculture; seafood safety; and fisheries management. The results of this research are shared with the public through Sea Grant’s integrated outreach program to bring together the collective expertise of on-the-ground extension agents, educators, and communications specialists.
We work with stakeholders, academics, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies to apply sound scientific, policy, and legal research findings to ensure a collaborative effort and informed decision-making for managing the state’s coastal and marine resources.
The goal is to ensure that vital research results are shared with those who need it most and in ways that are timely, relevant and meaningful.
Your Support Makes a
Federal funds from Congress are distributed among 34 state programs. Continued support from our partners and members of the community is why Sea Grant programs across the nation are able to continue serving coastal communities.
We thank you for your continued support!
Rhode Island Sea Grant Advisory Council
Rhode Island Sea Grant’s Advisory Council consists of representatives of Rhode Island’s major stakeholder groups. The council assists Sea Grant in identifying and responding to stakeholder priorities related to coastal and ocean issues. The council helps shape the focus of Sea Grant’s research request for proposals (RFP), extension efforts, and strategic direction so that it is adaptive in its response to ever-changing conditions and the needs of Rhode Island.
Executive Director, Rhode Island Marine Trades Association
Reserve Manager, Narragansett Bay NERR
American Mussel Harvesters
RI Department of Environmental Management
1st Vice President
Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association
Environmental Protection Agency
Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation
& Executive Director Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island
Coastal Resources Management Council
Chief Cooperative Research
NOAA Northeast Fisheries Center
East Coast Shellfish Growers Association
Director of Policy and Programs
RI Resource Recovery
Clean Ocean Access