Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium


The annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium provides a forum for researchers, resource managers, and stakeholders to discuss the most current science in various areas important to Rhode Island coastal communities and coastal and ocean environments.

This forum was formed in 2002 and renamed in 2006 to honor former National Sea Grant Director Ronald Baird and his contributions and continued service to the Sea Grant mission as an advisor to the Rhode Island and National Sea Grant offices.

Growth on underwater structure

Photograph: Udo van Dongen, Bureau Waardenburg

Offshore Renewable Energy in the US:
Learning as We Go

Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Resources Center are partnering with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Working Group on Marine Benthal Renewable Energy Developments (WGMBRED) and Venture Café & District Hall Providence to offer a 4-part webinar series to share lessons learned from offshore renewable energy development in the United States.

These webinars will explore key issues regarding the potential cause-effect relationships resulting from the construction and operation of offshore renewable energy installations and recommendations for minimizing impacts and promoting opportunities for positive biological outcomes.

This free webinar series takes the place of the Baird Symposium that had been planned for April 24th. These 90-minute webinars will occur between May 19 and July 15 and will cover the following topics:

May 19 @ 9 a.m.

Read the story
View recorded webinar here

What we have learned from a regulatory, industry, and resource user prospective.


Jennifer McCann is the Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography and Director of Extension Programs for the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program. McCann served as URI’s lead for developing the Ocean SAMP.

Mary C. Boatman, Ph.D., serves as the Environmental Studies Chief for the Office of Renewable Energy Programs within the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). She coordinates the scientific studies funded by BOEM and communication about those studies. She participated in regional ocean planning and support for sharing scientific information in regional data portals.  Her area of expertise is chemical oceanography, but she has worked in a multi-disciplinary capacity at BOEM.

Annie Hawkins is Executive Director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA).  Prior to joining RODA, she provided government relations support to a variety of fishing industry and ocean technology clients with a Washington, D.C. law firm. She previously held positions in fisheries management and marine regulation including at the New England Fishery Management Council and NOAA’s Large Marine Ecosystems program.

Grover Fugate is the Executive Director of the Coastal Resources Management Council.  Fugute has led the development and the implementation of the Rhode Island Ocean SAMP, including leading the permitting process for the Block Island Wind Farm and Vineyard Wind.

John O’Keeffe is Director of U.S. Marine Affairs for Ørsted U.S and previously served as manager of operations and maintenance for the Block Island Wind Farm, before Deepwater Wind’s acquisition by Ørsted.

Erik Chapman  is the Director of New Hampshire Sea Grant and the Associate Director of Outreach for the UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. He has a Masters in Wildlife Ecology and a Ph.D. in Oceanography and his expertise is in developing and using ecosystem models: an approach he has used to explore factors influencing Adèlie Penguin reproductive energetics and life history characteristics of bluefin tuna. He is currently the Chair of the NH Commission on Coastal and Marine Natural Resources and the Environment, a member of the Sea Grant Association Board, and a member of the NOAA Ecosystem Science Management Working Group

June 15 @ 9 – 10:30 a.m. EST

Read the Story
View the Webinar Recording

Description:  Explanation of the change in the biological diversity and ecological interactions resulting from new offshore renewable energy structures at a local scale and consideration of larger ecosystem scale. Panel will discuss the changes associated with installing multiple fixed turbines in terms of altered habitat provision, the development of benthic communities (both sessile and mobile), ecological processes and interactions which are relevant to understanding the effects and potential impacts.

Host and Moderator:

Jennifer McCann is the Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography and Director of Extension Programs for the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program. McCann served as URI’s lead for developing the Ocean SAMP.

Andrew Lipsky is the Fisheries & Offshore Wind Lead at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA and Narragansett, RI. He is responsible for developing NOAA’s regional fisheries and wind science capabilities. Lipsky also co-chairs the new ICES Working Group on Offshore Wind Development and Fisheries.


Jan Vanaverbeke is a senior scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Operational Directorate Natural Environment, Marine Ecology and Management Group, and a visiting professor at Ghent University, Belgium. His research is directed towards understanding the functional effects of the introduction of artificial hard substrates in the marine environment. Currently, he is acting as one of the chairs of the ICES Working Group on Marine Benthal Renewable Energy Developments (ICES WGMBRED).

Emma Sheehan is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Biological and Marine Sciences and Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom.  Currently Dr. Sheehan leads a research group that utilizes non-destructive techniques to assess the effectiveness of spatial management for species and habitats over large spatial and temporal scales.

Julia Livermore is a supervising biologist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (RIDEM) Division of Marine Fisheries; she serves as the point person on offshore wind for the Division. During her time at RIDEM, Julia has reviewed biological monitoring data from the Block Island Wind Farm and has conducted spatiotemporal analysis of offshore fishing activity and location and value of landings from federal wind energy areas to characterize how regions slated for development are utilized by Southern New England fishermen, as well as the species they target.

David Bethoney serves as the Executive Director of the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, David was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, School for Marine Science & Technology where he developed a research program on the foundation of practical application and direct engagement with the fishing industry. As part of that program he studied benthic animal communities and habitats in areas of meters to tens of thousands of kilometers, regions as different as mid-coast Maine and off the coast of Argentina, and topics as varied as sea cucumber fisheries management and the impact of offshore windfarm development.



Effects of Noise and EMF on Benthic Communities


Effects on the Food Web


These webinars are free but preregistration is required.  For more information please contact Jennifer McCann at (



Changes in Narragansett Bay: A Conversation Among Citizens and Scientists
16th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, December 6, 2017



Although there is a great deal of scientific information known about Narragansett Bay, many people who work and spend time on the bay continue to have questions about what is happening to habitats and species within the bay and what impacts climate change may have on the bay’s ecological communities. In addition, there have been many natural and man-made chemical and biological changes in the bay that are of great concern.

The purpose of this free, one-day event was to provide resource users, regulators, and scientists an opportunity to discuss the changes they have seen in the bay and to share information about why these changes are taking place. The results from this event will inform Sea Grant’s research agenda as well as the state’s developing Narragansett Bay Special Area Management Plan (Bay SAMP).


Below are links to the pdf versions of the presentations from the 2017 Baird Symposium.

Stakeholder Perspectives

The Choices We Have Made

Changes in the Bay: Chemical Inputs

Changes in the Bay: Habitats and Critters (Part 1)

Changes in the Bay: Habitats and Critters (Part 2)

Expectations for the Future

Responding to the Needs and Gaps


Below are annotated links to selected resources from Rhode Island Sea Grant’s archives on research related to Narragansett Bay from the last 30 years. For more information pertaining to Sea Grant’s work in Narragansett Bay, please visit the National Sea Grant online catalog or the National Sea Grant website.

Special Area Management Plans
The Narragansett Bay Special Area Management Plan (Bay SAMP) will be developed by applying the lessons and successes of previous special area management plans under the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). These plans are ecosystem-based management strategies that are consistent with the council’s legislative mandate to preserve and restore ecological systems. The CRMC coordinates with local municipalities, as well as government agencies and community organizations, to prepare the SAMPs and implement the management strategies.

To learn more, visit

State of Narragansett Bay & Its Watershed
This technical report by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program identifies key stressors to Narragansett Bay and its watershed, provides an assessment of the chemical, physical, and biological conditions (both past and recent trends), addresses potential future changes, and identifies data and research essential to advancing our understanding of these changes.

Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration (SNEP)
The Southeast New England region consists of coastal areas in Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Cape Cod, Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay. SNEP includes government and non-government organizations all of whom are currently working collaboratively and innovatively to maintain and improve quality and habitat conditions within these coastal watersheds. >> For more information

Fixed-Site Monitoring Stations and Data in Narragansett Bay
This site by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management contains monitoring station locations and data obtained to assess water quality in Narragansett Bay. There are currently 13 active stations with a higher concentration in the upper bay to monitor discharges from both wastewater treatment facilities and large tributary rivers. >>Additional Maps

Rhode Island Consortium for Coastal Ecology, Assessment, Innovation and Modeling
The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Rhode Island a $19 million grant to establish a statewide research consortium to study the effects of climate variability on coastal ecosystems. This consortium is intended to assess the impacts of climate variability on coastal ecosystems, create innovative technologies for detecting those changes, and build computer models to predict and plan for changes in coastal ecology. A Bay Observatory, including high-tech instrumentation and wireless data transmission, will be developed to collect real-time information at high resolution about the changing environmental conditions in Narragansett Bay. That data and imagery will be accessible to scientists and the public. >>Project Summary

Status of RIEMC Coastal Monitoring Programs/Indicators
These are supporting materials provided by the Rhode Island Environmental Monitoring Collaborative from a workshop on October 19, which focused on current monitoring efforts in Narragansett Bay.

More information regarding data gaps and research needs, as well as presentations and summaries on current monitoring efforts, can be found at

Wastewater Pollutant Reduction Efforts in Rhode Island
Courtesy of Angelo Liberti from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, this document summaries major wastewater pollutant reduction achievements since the 70s and 80s after discussions concerning secondary treatment for wastewater discharge.

Rhode Island Wastewater Treatment Residual Chlorine: Limits, History, and Status
Chlorine addition is the most common practice to disinfect wastewater in the U.S. before discharging into receiving waters. This practice was found to be toxic to aquatic life and concentration limits were set by the EPA. This document (courtesy of Angelo Liberti from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management) summarizes the steps taken to reduce the total residual chlorine by Rhode Island wastewater treatment facilities.

Rhode Island Sea Grant Research
Sea Grant invested in research in support of the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan. Projects included investigating the role of oysters in nitrogen removal and overall water quality, how warming waters affect quahog larvae transport and retention in Narragansett Bay as well as marine pathogens, the social carrying capacity for aquaculture, and understanding the various uses coastal salt ponds.

41˚N | Uncovering Rhode Island’s Largest Ship Graveyard
URI researchers uncover the remains of historic ships near Providence, sparking a conversation about defining what’s historic and what’s marine debris.

41˚N | Reviewing Rhode Island’s Urban Coast

Rhode Island Sea Grant invested in the development of a web-based program to show coastal planners and stakeholders the impacts of various sea level rise and storm surge scenarios using interactive maps.

The Nitrogen Cycle Lie
Research indicated that annual productivity in Narragansett Bay was declining. Sea Grant funded research investigating sources and sinks of nitrogen and the dynamics between microorganisms in the Bay.

41˚N | Fisheries Shifts to Warming Warming Waters pg. 2
A study by URI researchers found an increase of 1.6°C (2.9°F) in Narragansett Bay between 1959 and 2005. The same study showed shifts in the population of at least 24 species of fish. By measuring fish catches at stations in lower Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, researchers found a swing to pelagic (water-column) fish and squid from demersal (bottom-dwelling) fish. South of Whale Rock in Rhode Island Sound, URI researchers recorded more than a 100-fold drop in cunner. Red hake, longhorn sculpin, sea stars, and silver hake all experienced drops of more than 50 percent. Conversely, a more than 100-fold increase in butterfish, striped sea robin, and longfin squid, which prefer warmer waters, came along with the upswing in temperature. A shift in temperatures and species extends to the larger Gulf of Maine, the vast expanse of water between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia that many Northeast fishermen call home. Situated between two ecosystems —the colder North Atlantic and the warmer mid-Atlantic—rising temperatures threaten to push out the fish that prefer chillier temperatures.

Nitrogen Cycling Differs in Narragansett Bay
Rhode Island Sea Grant-funded researcher Jeremy Rich from Brown University found a lack of a key nitrogen cycling process in Narragansett Bay. Anaerobic ammonium oxidation—anammox— is a recently discovered mechanism by which nitrogen moves between bottom sediments and the water column, mediated by anaerobic bacteria, which don’t need oxygen to sustain life. It’s been found to be a very significant component of nitrogen cycling in marine systems, accounting for up to 67 percent of nitrogen loss in some areas.

Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Salt Marshes
Rhode Island has lost over 50 percent of its salt marshes due to coastal development, resulting in a loss of approximately 4,000 acres statewide. What remains of this vital ecosystem—which provides critical fisheries and wildlife habitat, as well as water quality and erosion control services—is further stressed by rising sea levels.

41˚N | Climate Change and Septic Systems pg. 38
About 30 percent of Rhode Islanders depend on septic systems to treat and disperse wastewater from kitchens, washing machines, and bathrooms. According to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), there are approximately 5,700 onsite wastewater treatment systems in the coastal zone, which are vulnerable to climate change.

Rhode Island Sea Grant funded George Loomis, soil scientist and director of the New England Onsite Wastewater Training Center at the University of Rhode Island, to study impacts climate change will have on septic systems and coastal environments.

Annual Winter-Spring Bloom in Narragansett Bay Down Due to Climate Change

Rhode Island Sea Grant-funded researchers investigating ecosystem response to climate change and nutrient availability found that climate changes were responsible for a 63 percent decline in the Narragansett Bay phytoplankton community between the 1960s and 2000s. Using carbon contained in phytoplankton biomass as a proxy for abundance, researchers found a 63 percent decline in the annual winter-spring phytoplankton bloom that takes place in Narragansett Bay, between the 1960s and 2000s. While unable to discern with surety if the decline is a result of the overall abundance of historical bloom species, or due to changes in species that comprise the bloom, the change appears to be species-specific, suggesting a response to climatic change.

Changes in nitrogen cycle from reduced nitrogen loading in Narragansett Bay may indicate global changes
Wastewater management in Rhode Island has been implementing nitrogen reduction measures with the intent of improved water quality and ecosystem health. How the system will respond, however, to nitrogen reduction and a changing climate is not known, requiring further study to support wastewater management and overall management of Rhode Island’s coastal waters.

Sea Grant-funded research to document the initial results of nitrogen loading decreases in Narragansett Bay. Researchers measured sediment oxygen demand and benthic inorganic nutrient (nitrate, nitrite, and ammonium) and gas (nitrogen and nitrous oxide) fluxes. Significant relationships were found between mean summer (June, July, August) water column chlorophyll and mean summer sediment nitrogen fluxes. Using these relationships and a 40-year chlorophyll record for Narragansett Bay, researchers found that the coastal ocean nitrogen cycle responds rapidly to changes in organic matter availability. If such trends hold true for the global ocean, the marine nitrogen cycle, as a whole, may also be undergoing significant change.

Climate Change and Rhode Island’s Coasts
This document describes impacts of storms, erosion, sea level rise, and warming temperatures that have occurred in Rhode Island’s coastal areas and that are expected to occur in the future. It predicted that likely future impacts include erosion, inundation, or migration of coastal habitats such as beaches and salt marshes, a northward shift in the geological range of many species, various impacts from ocean acidification and warming, and changes in ecosystem dynamics such as the timing of important biological events, food web dynamics, community composition and structure, and species diversity. 

Rhode Island Sea Grant Research
Rhode Island Sea Grant continued investment in studying nutrient dynamics and its implications for ecosystem-based management in Narragansett Bay. Projects investigated microbe and nutrient dynamics, phytoplankton response to nutrient reduction and climate change, and the use of hydrodynamic models to study and resolve hypoxic conditions in upper Narragansett Bay.

Rhode Island Sea Grant Research
Narragansett Bay’s response to climate change and other anthropogenic changes is just beginning to be understood, and it isn’t known how well that might translate to Rhode Island or Block Island Sound.

To help fill this void and provide new information for both science and management, Rhode Island Sea Grant issued a request for research proposals that focused on Rhode Island and Block Island Sounds, and on Narragansett Bay and its response to climate change. The response to this quest for knowledge was excellent, and for the 2010–2012 omnibus period Rhode Island Sea Grant has funded nine research projects.

41˚N | Ecological Changes in Narragansett Bay
In the 50th anniversary issue of 41˚N, the late Professor Theodore J. Smayda of Oceanography at the Graduate School of Oceanography discusses the ecological changes in Narragansett Bay based on a 50-year water quality and plankton dataset. He spoke to colleagues and students at a Rhode Island Sea Grant-sponsored research conference in March 2011.

These data document the Bay’s responses to change from the post-World War II-era through the 1970s, which saw the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, and up to today, where nutrient reduction programs and climate change are having an impact on Bay communities. Narragansett Bay, he said, is the perfect place to be to assess climate change because the Bay is a “biogeographical transition zone between temperate and boreal waters.” It’s in these zones where early and sustained changes in the system, particularly primary productivity (phytoplankton), can be measured.

Some Challenges of an “Upside Down” Nitrogen Budget: Science and Management in Greenwich Bay
When nutrients impact estuarine water quality, scientists and managers instinctively focus on quantifying and controlling land-based sources. However, Greenwich Bay opens onto a larger and more intensively fertilized coastal water body. Previous inventories of nitrogen inputs to Greenwich Bay found that nitrogen inputs from Narragansett Bay exceeded those from the local watershed, suggesting that recent efforts to reduce local watershed loads may have little effect on estuarine water quality.

41˚N | Gyres in Narragansett Bay pg.36
Two large-scale gyres were observed in Greenwich Bay and the Edgewood shoal in Cranston, to areas that experience chronic water problems in Narragansett Bay. These gyres create a localized current system that retains water for longer periods of time than observed in the rest of the Bay. Poor water circulation resulting from these gyres appears to be related to conditions of extreme hypoxia, or low dissolved oxygen levels associated with massive fish kills such as the one observed in Greenwich Bay in 2003 when millions of dead fish, primarily juvenile menhaden, littered the shore.

Christopher Kincaid, a researcher at the Graduate School of Oceanography, discusses work to better understand circulation patterns in the Bay and refining models to better understand the connections between circulation, nutrient loading, and water quality.

Rhode Island Ports and Harbors Inventory
Rhode Island Sea Grant, in conjunction with the Coastal Resources Center with support from Rhode Island Statewide Planning, helped provide the state with its first inventory of ports and harbors infrastructure aimed at improving urban planning with regard to economic, environmental, and social impacts in Narragansett Bay.

The study provides statewide data that will inform the waterborne-freight, marine transportation and land use planning decision-making process.

+Full Report

41˚N | Forecasting the Effects of Climate Change on the Rhode Island Economy, pg.10
Narragansett Bay is described as the “Achilles’ heel” of the Northeast because of its north-south orientation “funnel” that work together to magnify storm surge from hurricanes traveling northward along the Atlantic coast.  James Opaluch, professor in the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Economics at the University of Rhode Island, addresses economic elements that are most likely to be affected by key changes in Rhode Island’s climate.

Mapping Human Dimensions in Marine Spatial Planning and Management: An Example from Narragansett Bay
This study examines human uses of coastal waters in the upper bay to better manage resources and user conflicts. Results indicated that recreational boaters comprised almost two-thirds of the upper Bay’s users and used over one-half of the study area. Industrial activity was concentrated near Providence where Rhode Island’s main port is located, and there was an active commercial fishery in the southern portion of the study area. Conditions like increasing cloud cover, weekend days, and the July 4th holiday were related to increased recreational use, while the closure of an upper Bay beach to swimming was associated with fewer commercial fishing vessels and more official boats, recreational motorboats, and service vessels.

Findings indicated that upper Bay waters near land converted from industrial zones to zones where residential housing or marinas are encouraged are likely to see a change in the composition of vessels, with fewer industrial and official boats and more recreational motor boats, row boats, and service vessels. Enhanced wastewater treatment technologies and the resulting improvements in water quality are likely to make more waters in the upper Bay available to shellfish harvesting, spreading out existing fishing grounds and potential pressures on the ecosystem and on other users.

Long-term Shifts in the Species Composition of a Coastal Fish Community
This study analyzes 25 fish and invertebrate species collected in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound to assess trends in species abundance.

Science for Ecosystem-Based Management
This publication was the outcome of the third annual Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium in 2004 that focused on nutrient enrichment in Narragansett Bay and contains 19 chapters that review the geological and ecological landscape of the Bay, nutrient inputs, circulation dynamics, climate change, and an “eco-functional approach” for ecosystem-based management. The intent of this information is to provide a baseline of understanding the driving factors in ecosystem health of Narragansett Bay and how those might change with reduced nutrient input.

URI Researchers Observe Nitrogen Cycling in Narragansett Bay
This study reveals reversal in the nitrogen cycle. Instead of removing nitrogen, researchers have found that sediments have become a source through a bacterial process called nitrogen fixation. Sea Grant-funded researchers noted that chlorophyll concentrations in mid-Narragansett Bay appear to have been declining since the 1970s. This has resulted in a decrease in plankton sinking to the bottom – an important change because plankton are an important food source for the benthic community and are essential for the denitrification process.

41N: Rhode Island’s Coastal and Ocean Magazine
This issue focuses on efforts to monitor Narragansett Bay and its living resources, with special attention given to the Bay Window Program—a monitoring program to observe the ecological condition of the Bay for management purposes.

  • “Bay Window Program: Monitoring and Assessing Changing Fisheries Yields, Ecology, and Water Quality in Narragansett Bay” pg. 2
  • “How are the Fish Doing? | 2003 Fish Kill” pg. 4
    Bay Window data have been tracking a shift in Bay fisheries that has been a trend from the 1990s through the early 2000s. This trend shows that bottom-dwelling (demersal) fish have declined sharply, while off-bottom (pelagic) species have increased.
  • “Winter Flounder: Turning the Tide” pg. 6
  • “Eutrophication in Narragansett Bay” pg.10

The State of Science on Nutrients in Narragansett Bay: Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium
This report provides key findings and recommendations from the 2004 Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. Resource managers, researchers, and other stakeholders found that nitrogen reduction in discharges from wastewater treatment facilities was necessary to address low dissolved oxygen conditions and algal bloom occurrences in the upper and middle regions of Narragansett Bay.

Anthropogenic Nutrient Inputs into Narragansett Bay: A 25-Year Perspective
The purpose of this report is to provide a comparison of the nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to Narragansett Bay from direct sewage treatment plant discharges in the mid-1970’s, the mid-1980’s, and in 2002/2003, and to report the results of the most recent river nutrient flux measurements.

While there was not a complete inventory of nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to Narragansett Bay at any time, it was believed that the data presented captured the major pathways by which nitrogen and phosphorus enter the Bay and that they provide useful evidence for evaluating the approximate magnitude of those inputs at various points during recent decades. Taken as a whole, the evidence available does not indicate that nitrogen inputs to Narragansett Bay from sewage treatment plants or the rivers examined have increased in recent decades. Phosphorus inputs have declined.

41˚N | Rhode Island’s Coastal and Ocean Magazine

  • “Greenwich Bay Planning” pg.4
  • “Rhode Island’s marine economy growing rapidly” pg. 8
  • “Tracking Lobsters” pg.9
  • “Is Fisheries Management Sacrificing the Fishery to Save the Fish?”  pg. 11
  • “URI Scientists Report Greenwich Bay Fish Kill not Unexpected” pg.19
  • “Land-use Survey Examines Preferences for Conservation v. Conservation policy” pg. 25

The Shallow Marine Ecosystems of Southern RI: Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium Proceedings
This symposium highlights research on Rhode Island’s south shore shallow marine ecosystems including Little Narragansett Bay, the Pawcatuck estuary, the salt ponds, and Narrow River. Research includes efforts to identify and quantify the sources and transformation of nitrogen in coastal landscapes and the ecosystem effects in coastal ponds, use of advanced treatment technologies for septic systems, the role of riparian zones in nitrate removal from groundwater, temperature and nutrient interactions, eelgrass health, and identifying fecal coliform sources.

Metal Inputs to Narragansett Bay: A History and Assessment of Recent Conditions
This document looks at the introduction of anthropogenic metal inputs to Narragansett Bay since European settlement. It notes that “remarkable reductions in the inputs of metals to Narragansett Bay have been achieved over the past 40 years, especially over the past 8-10 years. The evidence for these reductions is in the sediments and in the monitoring reports of the Department of Environmental Management. The reductions have come about as a result of air and water pollution control legislation as well as changes in the economy of the bay watershed.

3rd Rhode Island Shellfish Industry Conference
These proceeding notes are from the third Rhode Island Shellfish Industry Conference, held at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus on August 18, 1994. They highlight research on water quality, shellfish management, the current status of quahog stocks in key fishing areas, economic and marketing trends for quahogs, and the pitfalls and opportunities of aquaculture as a means of maintaining Rhode Island’s share of shellfish markets.

Historical Trends: Water Quality and Fisheries in Narragansett Bay
This report provides seven chapters regarding the evolution of Narragansett Bay’s physical environment, issues related to pollution, development, management, and water quality and fisheries trends.

Depth-Volume Relationships in Narragansett Bay
This publication outlines research of the Bay’s physical features to enhance research and management efforts. Results from this study include bathymetric contour charts, the area, volume, mean depth, and shoreline length for various subregions of the Bay, cross-sectional areas in a number of places along the bay, the bathymetric profiles of transects along the passages of the bay, and the cumulative volume of the bay as a function of increasing distance from various points.

Scientific Research in the Providence River, Upper Narragansett Bay and Tributaries
This report summarizes research and monitoring activities in upper Narragansett Bay regarding the effects of pollution on aquatic organisms, fisheries biology, physical and geological processes, and water quality and wastewater management at the direction of investigators from academic, government and private institutions. This summary was intended to provide a common information base and point of departure for cooperative research planning efforts between scientists and regulators.

Pollution in Narragansett Bay
This report documents the history and sources of pollution in Narragansett Bay prior to 1970. The major sources of pollution entering the Bay were linked to municipal and industrial waste that increased constantly from the earliest record. The oldest polluted area identified is the Providence River, due most likely to sewage discharge, with the total polluted area of Narragansett Bay calculated around 35 square miles, or nearly one-third of the total area. These areas are generally associated with population and industrial growth. The lower bay was considered relatively “clean” at the time of this report.

In the Media

+ Fishermen: Bay cleanup may be doing harm | Providence Journal
+ Narragansett Bay’s Ecology Changes Worry Fishermen | ecoRI


For more information, please contact Jennifer McCann at (401) 874-6127 or The 2017 Baird Symposium is sponsored by the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the URI Coastal Resources Center, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation.

The Social Dimensions of American Offshore Wind Energy: Towards a Research Agenda
15th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 24, 2016

This invitation-only event was hosted by the Coastal Resources Center and the University of Rhode Island Marine Affairs Department, with support from the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration at the University of Delaware. Its primary purpose was to help inform Rhode Island Sea Grant’s next research RFP, which will include a call for social science proposals on the issue of the impact of offshore wind energy development on society.


Jeremy Firestone, CCPI: The Nature of Offshore Wind Energy Concerns

Grover Fugate, CRMC: Rhode Island’s Offshore Wind Experience: The Block Island Wind Farm

Brian Krevor, BOEM: Regulator Perspectives on Offshore Wind Energy & Social Research Needs

Robert O’Connor, Decision, Risk and Management Sciences, National Science Foundation: Trends in Environmental Social Science

Martin Pasqualetti, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University: Public Acceptance of Wind Power

Bonnie Ram, CCPI: Lessons from Denmark

Experience with Offshore Wind Energy: Community and User Perspectives

Speakers: Jessica Willi, Block Island Tourism Council; David Monti, Rhode Island charter boat operator/fishing columnist, Providence Journal; Richard Getchell, Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians/All Nations Global; facilitator Nick Battista, Island Institute

  • David Monti, charter boat operator and fishing columnist

2015 International Marine Spatial Planning Symposium
14th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 6, 2015

program_coverPlanning Ocean Space for the Future: Notes from the Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium

Since the beginning of July, Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound have been abuzz with barges, tugs, and supply vessels carrying steel pilings and jacket foundations, each weighing up to 450 tons, to build what will be the country’s first offshore wind farm.

“There are a lot of lessons to be had from the fact that our project made it to this moment and others didn’t,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, in his keynote address at the Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium on marine spatial planning (MSP), which brought practitioners from across the nation and globe to discuss the needs and challenges of this emerging field.

“At the end of the day, marine spatial planning was one of the principal reasons why.”

+ Read full article

Watch entire LIVECAST 

Jeff_015KEYNOTE: Jeffrey Grybowski, Chief Executive Officer of Deepwater Wind

“Rhode Island’s pioneering marine spatial planning work has helped to pave the way for America’s first offshore wind energy project, the Block Island Wind Farm.  Smart, transparent, and inclusive planning is essential to the offshore wind energy industry.”

Grybowski is the Chief Executive Officer of Deepwater Wind, where he manages the company’s portfolio of offshore wind and transmission projects. He has been intimately involved since its inception in the development and execution of the first offshore wind farm in the United States, Deepwater Wind’s path-breaking Block Island Wind Farm. The project closed on a $300 million financing in early 2015 and is scheduled for commercial operations in late 2016.

Grybowski has been at the forefront of shaping the federal and state policies supporting offshore wind in the US, including playing key roles in the development of federal rules governing the leasing and permitting of offshore wind projects, federal tax policies supporting renewables, and policies at the state level throughout the northeast for offshore wind, transmission, and renewables. Grybowski is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Wind Energy Association.

Grybowski previously served as Chief of Staff to the Governor of the State of Rhode Island, where he was the Governor’s most senior advisor on all matters of state business. He previously practiced corporate law at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder in Providence, Rhode Island and at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.

Grybowski earned an A.B. with Honors in Public Policy from Brown University, a J.D. with High Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, and served as a Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

Primary Symposium Sponsors:

Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council. This symposium is funded in part by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Staying Afloat: Adapting Waterfront Businesses to Rising Seas and Extreme Storms
13th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, December 10, 2014

This one-day conference focused on minimizing impacts to waterfront business, and the shores where they are situated, in the face of increasing threats from extreme storms and rising seas. Representatives from the private sector, government, and the community examined the planning, engineering, and design-based climate adaptation options, as well as trade-offs to keep in mind as a business owner or waterfront district decision maker. Download the summary: Baird 2014 Summary

Courtesy of the Providence Journal:

“We know that intensity is likely to increase,” said Austin Becker, associate professor of coastal planning at the University of Rhode Island.

But perhaps the more disquieting pictures shown by Becker during his presentation were taken more recently when there was no storm. They showed the effects in North Kingstown of a moon tide from earlier this year when waters in Wickford Harbor washed over docks and into parking lots.

Though it may not be the new normal yet for Rhode Island, such events will only become more common in the coming years as temperatures go up and seas gradually rise, speakers said at the 13th annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. The facts, they said, are incontrovertible.

“We need to forget politics for a moment,” said oceanographer John Englander. “This is physics.”

Englander, the Florida-based author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis,” delivered the keynote speech at the all-day conference sponsored by the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, both at URI, and the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina.

In his 45-minute talk, Englander summarized the data on rising seas. The average sea level hasn’t been higher in 120,000 years than it is today. While sea levels hadn’t changed much in 5,000 years, in the last century they have risen 8 inches on average. While the rise has been smaller on the West Coast — Los Angeles has seen a 4-inch increase — it has been higher on the East Coast, with New York City experiencing a 14-inch increase and Boston a 13-inch increase.

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Are the Costs of Resiliency Worthwhile?
Resiliency_CostsThe added costs for more resilient infrastructure are causing tension as coastal communities grapple with how to recover, and to what extent, after devastating storms such as Sandy.

The expenses of cleaning up after a storm, as well as of constructing more resilient buildings, sparked some of the liveliest discussion at the Baird Sea Grant Symposium

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In the media

Find additional presentations at RISeaGrant YouTube

Keynote, John Englander, author of High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Levels and the Coming Coastal Crisis, and oceanographer, consultant and sea level rise expert. He brings the diverse points of view of an industry scientist, entrepreneur and CEO. For over 30 years, he has been a leader in both the private sector and the non-profit arena, serving as CEO for such noteworthy organizations as The Cousteau Society and The International SeaKeepers Society. As the Founder of the Rising Seas Group, he works with businesses, government agencies, and communities helping them understand the financial risks of sea level rise.

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Planning Committee:  RI Marine Trades Association, Commerce RI, RI Statewide Planning, RI Nursery and Landscape Association, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, EPA Smart Growth, URI Marine Affairs/Landscape Architecture, Tetra Tech, and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Thank you to all of the following sponsors: The Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, Tetra Tech, Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association, USDA’s Risk Management Agency, 11th Hour Racing, Prince Charitable Trusts, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, and the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Future of Shellfish in Rhode Island: Sustainable seafood, economic opportunities, and ecosystem benefits
12th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, November 14th, 2013

The current and the potential future value—economic and environmental—of shellfish to Rhode Island. 

Summary Notes



The 2013 Baird Symposium is funded by Rhode Island Sea Grant, the URI Coastal Institute, and the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan.

This event is being coordinated in partnership with representatives from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, R.I. Department of Environmental Management, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, The Nature Conservancy, East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and the local shellfishing industry.

International Marine Spatial Planning: Sharing Practical Solutions
11th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, May 16th, 2012

Planning for who gets to do what (and where, when, and how) in a nation’s coastal and ocean waters falls to a state or country’s coastal managers, and over 75 of them from across the U.S. and around the world gathered in Providence, R.I., on May 14-16, 2012, to discuss how their efforts-known as “marine spatial planning; (MSP) – are faring.

Summary Notes
Practitioner Biographies
Practitioner Contact Sheet
MSP Survey Document


Organizing the Process through pre-planning

Marine Planning in England Organising the process through pre-planning. Paul Gilliland, Marine Management Organisation, United Kingdom

Oregon Marine Spatial Planning Overview and Update. Paul Klarin, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon 

Applying Decision Support Tools

Marine Spatial Planning Decision Support Tools Development in Canada. Darren Williams, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Frameworks for the Processes & Outcomes of MSP. Stephen Olsen, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources

Formal Adoption and Final Products

Implementation of the ecosystem approach through Marine Spatial Planning: the Norwegian case. Erik Olsen, Institute for Marine Research, Norway

Formal Adoption and Final Products 30 Years of Transnational Cooperation. Harold Marencic, Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, Germany

Regulatory Results

BOEM’s Renewable Energy Program Philosophy and Lessons Learned. Maureen Bornholdt, Bureau of Ocean Energy Managemen

Economic and Social Results

Marine Spatial Planning for Ocean Resources. Grover Fugate, R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council

Deepwater Wind.  Bill Moore, Deepwater Wind, Inc.

Potentials of Multi-Use Concepts within a MSP Process. Bela Buck, Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany

Enviornmental Results

Marine Spatial Planning: a tropical perscective. Vera Agostini, The Nature Conservancy, Florida 

Marine Spatial Planning in Support of Environmental Protection in Canada’s marine waters. Danna Campbell, Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

Capacity to Implement

Massachusetts Ocean Management: Capacity to develop and implement plan. Bruce Carlisle, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone, United States

Capacity to implement; experiences from the Dorset C-SCOPE Project. Ness Smith, Dorset C-Scope, Project UK, United Kingdom

May 16th, 2012

Marine Spatial Planning: What’s the Big Deal

Marine Spatial Planning: What’s the Big Deal? Jake Rice, Fisheries & Oceans Canada.

U.S. Strategy for Promoting MSP

Ocean planning in the Northeast U.S. John Weber, Ocean Planning Director, Northeast Regional Ocean Council.

The European MSP Experience: What are we Learning

30 Years of Dutch-German-Danish Cooperation on the Protection of the Wadden Sea. Herald Marencic, Deputy Secretary, Common Wadden Sea Secretariat

Marine Planning in England What are we learning? Paul Gilliland, Marine Planning Development Manager Organization: Marine Management Organization.

A Race for Space in the Begain Marine Waters: Marine Spatial Planning in Belgium. Charlotte Herman, Belgium, Directorate-General for Environment.

More MSP Experiences from Abroad

Canada’s Approach to Marine Spatial Planning – an ecosystem based approach. Darren Williams & Danna Campbell, Ocean Policy and Planning Unit, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Marine Spatial Planning of the Azores. Frederico Cardigos, Regional Director of Sea Affairs, Government of the Azores.

Maritime Spatial Planning in France. Denis van der Putten, Chief of the Mission for Coordinator for Maritime Policies, Mache Est Mer du Nord, France.

Multi-Use Concepts as a Potental Solution for the Overcrowded Marine Realm. Bela H. Buck, Marine Aquaculture Specialist, Alfred Wegener Institute.

MSP in the United States: What Are the Main Results?

Massachusetts Ocean Management: Implementation Progress and Results. Bruce K. Carlisle, Office of Coastal Zone Management, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Oregon Marine Spatial Planning Progress Report. Paul Klarin, Marine Affairs Coordinator, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Marine Spatial Planning For Ocean Resources. Grover Fugate, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

The Next Generation of MSP in the US

MARCO Mapping & Planning Portal. Laura Mckay, Manager, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

Marine Spatial Planning in Washington State. Jennifer Hennessey, Ocean Policy Associate, Department of Ecology.

The Next Generation of MSP in the U.S: Future Challenges and Opportunities. State of Hawaii and the Pacific Region. Jesse K. Souki, Director, State Office of Planning.

Other Resources

Integration of Marine-Related Data and Information in Foreign Countries. Tomohiko Tsunoda and Masanori Muto. Science and Technology Group. Mitsubishi Research Institue, Inc. (Presentation)

C-Scope Combining Sea and Coastal Planning in Europe: (Website Link)


Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation 
RI Coastal Resources Management Council 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management 
URI Coastal Resources Center 
Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program 
The Nature Conservancy 
The Ocean Conservancy 
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
The University of Rhode Island 
American Mussel Harvesters Inc.
Matunuck Oyster Bar

Developing the Rhode Island Seafood Knowledge Economy: Perspectives on Seafood Sustainability
10th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, June 26-28, 2011

The symposium brought together an international group of scientists, chefs, the seafood industry, and others to share perspectives on topics such as sourcing sustainable seafood, consumer preferences, and health. Participants got to prepare—and taste—sustainable seafood dishes under the guidance of chefs at the Johnson & Wales University campus in Providence. The symposium was sponsored by JWU, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and the University of Rhode Island.

Celebrating Sustainable Seafood, the video of the 2011 Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, highlights the best of the symposium, “Developing the Rhode Island Seafood Knowledge Economy: Perspectives on Seafood Sustainability.”

Film from the 10th Ronald C. Baird Symposium, 2011

New Approaches to Understanding Emerging Marine Diseases
9th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, August 10-11, 2010

Researchers trying to understand disease emergence are dealing with complex, multi-scale, and variable systems. Traditional approaches using cause-and-effect methods are difficult to apply when systems are at ecosystem levels and risk factors are non-linear. New techniques to examine diseases are being used to explain disease outbreaks. Triangulation is a process of gathering information about a system through field, laboratory, model, and historical investigations facilitated by a cross-disciplinary research group. This new approach has been used in the investigation of shell disease for American lobster by researchers and their staff and students from 14 institutions. As one team, experts in the fields of crustacean endocrinology, genetics, veterinary medicine, behavior, microbiology, lobster biology, chemistry, environmental science, and epidemiology have worked together with fishermen and managers for three years to uncover the dynamics of shell disease. This symposium will include a special workshop on shell disease in American Lobster.

Research Results

New Information and Tools

The Ecology of Marine Windfarms: Perspectives on Impact Mitigation, Siting, and Future Uses
8th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, November 2-4, 2009

The development of offshore renewable energy systems is an international priority driven by the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decrease human impacts on global climate. At the same time, the increasing demand for high qualityseafoods, marine products, and recreational opportunities is accelerating worldwide.

The purpose of this symposium is to develop opportunities and document progress toward a new vision of designed, permitted, offshore ecosystems that have windpower energy systems as their focus to provide mutual benefits for multiple uses of ocean space and many new opportunities to develop the “green economy.”

This symposium will bring together international experts in wind energy, biotechnologies, seafoods, fisheries, aquaculture, and leading legal and policy experts to discuss innovative methods for the integration of these future uses into wind farm marine areas.

Symposium Speakers

Dr. Bela Buck, Head of the Marine Aquaculture, Maritime Technologies and ICZM Work Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, will provide the symposium keynote  address. Willett M. Kempton, of the College of Marine and Earth Studies at the University of Delaware, is one of the lunch speakers. Leon Cammen, National Sea Grant College Program director, will also address participants.

Sound Connections: The Science of Rhode Island and Block Island Sounds
7th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 20-21, 2008

Creating Vibrant Waterfronts in Rhode Island
6th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium, October 19-21, 2007

The Evolution of Ecosystem Based Management: From Theory to Practice
5th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. October 19-20, 2006

Lobsters as Model Organisms for Interfacing Behavior, Ecology, and Fisheries
4th Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. July 14, 2005

State of Science Knowledge of Nutrients in Narragansett Bay
3rd Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. November 17-18, 2004  More.

Shallow Marine Ecosystems of Southern Rhode Island
2nd Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium. December 9, 2002, and January 2003. Part I: Hydrology, nutrient & bacteria dynamics. Part II: Sediment dynamics, habitat changes & fish resources.

Urban Aquaculture
1st Annual Ronald C. Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium