The New England Fishery Management Council made the right move recently, voting to ask the federal government to suspend an at-sea monitoring program required of the groundfish industry, according to long-time fisherman Fred Mattera, who said shifting the cost to fishermen could decimate the industry.

Mattera, who was a commercial fisherman for 40 years, said fishermen already have to deal with quota cutbacks and depressed prices for locally caught fish. 

U.S. Geological Survey

The New England Fishery Management Council has reduced protections of highly sensitive areas in Georges Bank, on the continental shelf east of Cape Cod, and opened it to commercial scalloping. The vote comes after a 12-year-review of habitat protection measures in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment.

Approximately 10,000 square kilometers on Georges Bank, an important fishery area for Rhode Island fishermen, have been protected from fishing for more than 20 years.

Hans-Petter Fjeld / Wikimedia Commons

In regional news, the Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon, known as the “king of fish,” is one of eight marine species most at risk for extinction in the near future. The fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced a new campaign to beef up efforts to help these endangered species survive.

NOAA Fisheries biologist Tara Trinko Lake said the Atlantic salmon were once abundant as far south as Connecticut, but they started to decline in the late 1800s from dams, overfishing, and pollution.

Courtesy of Northeast Fisheries Science Center / NOAA

Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb all the carbon emissions humans release into the air. And it could impact the Atlantic seaboard’s scallop industry, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars. A team of researchers is working to predict just how bad the damage might be.

Researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy unveiled a computer program that analyzes data on changes in the ocean, the scallop population, and the economy.

The Rhode Island Foundation has announced the winners for this year’s innovation fellowships.  The program is aimed at sparking new ideas for the state. The award comes with a $300,000 grant.

This year’s two winners include John Haley, a scientist specializing in marine fisheries.  He’s working on a product to improve mussel aquaculture.  It’s a kind of cord that’s “pre-loaded” with mussel larvae to speed up the cultivation time for mussel farmers.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration submits its annual fisheries report to Congress Wednesday. By law (the Magnuson-Stevens Act), NOAA Fisheries must report annually on fish populations within 200 miles of the coast. The agency is also tasked with rebuilding depleted stocks.

Last year, NOAA Fisheries brought two fish species, (considered depleted), back up to healthy levels, and removed several others from the overfishing and overfished lists.

RIPR File Photo

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has infused $1.6 million into the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program. This money will support ongoing research and conservation projects in the Ocean State.

Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce

The fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has exempted some Gulf of Maine fishermen from emergency fishing restrictions it issued last November. A fisheries analyst said the latest compromise still meets the goal to protect the region’s cod, but not everyone agrees.

NOAA Fisheries issued fishing trip limits last November that would reduce the Gulf of Maine cod catch by 20 metric tons. Fisheries policy analyst William Whitmore said fishermen came back with an alternate proposal.

The University of Rhode Island has announced a $24 million grant to help rebuild fisheries in Ghana. The grant for the Coastal Resources Center at the School of Oceanography is the largest in URI's history.

The money will fund a project in collaboration with USAID's Feed the Future initiative, attempting to curb over-fishing in Ghana. The project aims to help Ghana develop new fishing regulations and a management plan to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks.

Hans Hillewaert via Creative Commons License

NOAA Fisheries issued emergency measures last week to protect Gulf of Maine cod. On the heels of this emergency action, the New England Fishery Management Council has recommended new restrictions to address the depleted cod population, as it finalizes next year’s fishing management measures for several fish.

Calamari Becomes The Ocean State's Official Appetizer

Jun 28, 2014
Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Calamari is now Rhode Island’s official state appetizer. At the signing ceremony, Governor Lincoln Chaffee said this bill is an important way to support Rhode Island’s fishing industry, despite the pushback he got for it.

Chafee said fishermen frequently told him, “We want our calamari bill!”

“And I said to myself, you know [despite] all the cynicism about, ‘Why  are you doing this with an appetizer when there are so many more important things to do?’ I went back to Rep. McNamara and Sen. Sosnowski and I said, ‘Let’s get that calamari bill. The fisherman want it!’”

Rhode Island will receive nearly $2 million in relief funds to help fishermen hit by sharp cuts in catch limits.

A newly created fisheries institute in Rhode Island will develop and take on new innovative and practical research projects. The institute is partnership between the Department of Environmental Management and the University of Rhode Island.

August Linnman / Creative Commons

Nearly $33 million in disaster relief money will soon flow to help New England fishermen hurting from declining fish stocks and tighter fishing limits. The federal government declared a fisheries disaster last year in Rhode Island. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline joined other congressional leaders to include $74 million in fisheries disaster in the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill.