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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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 interested parties.

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 program.

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

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Copyright 2001 University of Rhode Island. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Page last revised on Saturday, February 24, 2001 .