URI Coastal Institute to provide forum
for fisheries debate
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 24, 2001 -- At the request of Governor Lincoln
Almond and with the support of the Rhode Island General Assembly, the University
of Rhode Island's Coastal Institute will host a series of public meetings
to review and identify ways to improve the licensing of commercial fishermen
in Rhode Island. Following this initial phase, later meetings will be held
to discuss the long-term needs for fisheries management in the state.
The first meeting will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. in Corless
Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett. The meeting is free and
open to the public. Participants in the meeting will include fishery industry
representatives, resource managers, political leaders, scientists, and other
Topics to be covered in this initial meeting include a review of the
current state of the commercial fishing licensing process in Rhode Island
and discussion of the goals and objectives of the state's fishery management
According to Peter August, director of the Coastal Institute, during
the 2000 legislative session the R.I. General Assembly placed a moratorium
on issuing new commercial fishing licenses, because of overfishing concerns,
in order to allow the state to re-examine its licensing policies. Prior
to the moratorium, anyone who wanted a commercial fishing license could
obtain one, and fishermen are not required to report what species they are
catching or where they are fishing.
"That licensing system does not allow managers to track the fishing
effort in the state, thereby making stock assessments very difficult,"
said August. "It has become a very difficult issue, with lots of debate
from all sides."
Some segments of the fishing industry support the current licensing system
because it provides fishermen with open access to fish resources and the
flexibility to easily switch from one type of fishing to another. Others,
however, seek tighter control of the industry and limitations on access.
URI's Coastal Institute was selected to host the forum to publicly discuss
this issue because of its neutral role in gathering and synthesizing information
for the management of Rhode Island's coastal ecosystems.
Established in 1998, the Coastal Institute works in partnership with
local, state, federal, and international agencies to help solve the complex
problems of human use and development in coastal environments.
For Information: Peter August 874-4794, Todd McLeish 874-7892