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Marine Law & Policy





The Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program is one of four Sea Grant Legal Programs in the nation, and the only one in New England.

Housed at the Marine Affairs Institute at the Roger Williams University School of Law since 2003, the program is a national clearinghouse for marine law and policy and prepares law students entering the exciting filed of ocean and coastal law through the Law Fellow Program. 


To provide legal expertise on ocean and coastal-related issues and prepare the next generation of marine law professionals.

Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellow Program


The Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellow Program is an experiential education opportunity in which Law Fellows research and analyze marine law issues requested by outside professional organizations, under the guidance of Marine Affairs Institute staff.



Students are eligible to become Law Fellows after their first year of study, and projects are typically completed in one semester, though some projects last more than one semester. Outside organizations requesting Law Fellow assistance may include government agencies, nonprofit groups, and corporations. Project topics cover the full range of ocean, coastal, and maritime topics and may focus on local, regional, national, or even international law. The Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellow Program does not litigate or advocate.


Read Porter, Senior Staff Attorney


Legal Issues Affecting Blue Carbon Projects on Publicly-Owned Coastal Wetlands

Legal Requirements for Equitable Design and Implementation of Flood Buyout Programs in Rhode Island

Climate Change and Dam Owner Liability 

Legal Implications of “Organic” Seafood Labeling Based on Foreign Standards

Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

The Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant’s founders, former NOAA Administrator and Dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with “hosts” in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C., area, for a one-year paid fellowship.

For more information on expenses and how to apply please refer to our Student page or visit the National Sea Grant website. 



If you are interested in applying or have additional questions, please contact Alan Desbonnet, Assistant Director, Rhode Island Sea Grant, by phone: 401-874-6813 or email: aland@uri.edu

How to Protect Wetlands & Combat Climate Change for a Century

Publicly owned wetlands are being eyed for long-term carbon reduction.

Buyout Programs Leave Homeowners and Renters at a Loss

Years-long waits for relief are just one of the problems facing federal buyout programs.

Dam Liability New Climate Issue in Rhode Island

New study by the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program looks at the legal liability of dam owners as the risk for dam failure grows, increasing the risk of damages to life and property.

Takings Implications of Offshore Wind Energy Development

Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellows look at the legal challenges to offshore wind projects by coastal property owners.

Communities May Be Faced with Elevating or Abandoning Coastal Highways

Coastal communities in the Ocean State will be faced with difficult choices in the not-so-distant future as the encroachment of the sea and more powerful storms increase flooding in low-lying areas. One of those difficult choices is deciding what to do with vulnerable...

Why There’s No Such Thing as Organic Seafood in the U.S. (mostly)

Sea Grant Law Fellow research uncovers complex issues, risks for would-be organic seafood growers If you prefer to buy organic food whenever possible, you may wonder why you don’t see “organic” farmed seafood in grocery stores or fish markets—and if you do, you may...

Overcoming Impediments to Shellfish Aquaculture: Case Studies

More than half of the population of the continental United States resides in coastal communities, which are increasingly home to commercial shellfish aquaculture operations. Consequently, a variety of user conflicts can arise as states seek to encourage the...

Climate in the Courtrooms

The Northeast is expected to reach several milestones in sea-level rise and flooding well before other areas of the country. This region is expected to have the “largest temperature increase in the contiguous United States,” according the recent National Climate...

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