URI, state fishing groups establish Commercial Fisheries Center

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 8, 2003 — The University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and five non-profit commercial fishing organizations in the state have agreed to establish the Rhode Island Commercial Fisheries Center at URI’s East Farm in Kingston.

The center will serve as the home for the fishing groups, and it will include office and meeting space as well as a repository for information related to the groups and the fishing industry. It will also be a site for fisheries researchers and educators to interact with working fishermen.

The groups involved are the Ocean State Fisherman’s Association, the R.I. Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the R.I. Lobstermen’s Association, the R.I. Seafood Council, and the R.I. Shellfishermen’s Association in a partnership facilitated by the College of the Environment and Life Sciences.
“I’m very excited that we’ve been able to help in bringing together the various commercial fishing groups in the state and provide them with a permanent home. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved — the commercial fishing industry, the state and the University,” said Dr. Jeff Seemann, dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the one most responsible for making the facility available to the groups. “I expect that as these associations begin to work more closely with one another, as well as with URI researchers, the entire local fishing industry will benefit. And that will be a boon to the economy of the entire region.”
The fishing organizations will lease the building from URI for $1 per year and will completely fund any necessary renovations themselves. The facility is expected to open in the spring.

“I don’t think there’s any other place like this in the country,” said Chris Brown, president of the R.I. Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “In Rhode Island we enjoy a very special relationship among the fishing industries. The commercial fishermen and shellfishermen and lobstermen in other ports in other states don’t enjoy the same relationship we have here. There’s a spirit of cooperation here that makes this kind of setup possible.”
Michael McGiveney, president of the R.I. Shellfishermen’s Association, agreed. “We think it’s going to be a great place for us to meet with other fishing groups and a local place where people can meet or talk to fishermen. And being right at URI, it gives us access to students, researchers, and other things the fishermen may occasionally need,”

URI has close ties to the fishing industry and has conducted fisheries related research for many years. Faculty in its Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science conduct fisheries and aquaculture research on shellfish and finfish, and they regularly interact with the fishing industry.

“Most of the people that I work with in a given week are in these groups, so having them conveniently located here at East Farm is great,” said David Beutel, a fisheries researcher at URI and a former commercial fisherman. “All of our fisheries research projects are tied to these people, too.”

“It’s always good when you can join forces and become part of an alliance with a long-established friend of the industry like URI,” added Brown. “There’s just a tremendous amount of resources for us there, from management issues to water quality. This is going to be great for us.”