"We recognize that local seafood is part of the overall food system," said Ken Ayars, chief of the division of agriculture at the DEM. "We want to put time, effort, and money into supporting that component of the local food system, just like we do with land-based agriculture."
Small and beginning farmers and fishermen have until April 1 to apply for new grant money available to help them grow and promote their businesses.
The governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Management announced a new program with more than $200,000 in grants to make the state’s local food system stronger. The grant program was established by the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) of 2012.
The state Department of Environmental Management is stocking six Rhode Island ponds with brook trout for the winter fishing season. According to a press release, the agency is stocking six ponds with 1,000 brook trout. This is on top of the 2,000 trout that were stocked last month.
Anglers are required to carry a current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp. The daily bag limit currently stands at two fish per day.
Anglers are forbidden from wearing felt-soled footgear, as it promotes the spread of invasive species.
Anglers can count on trout to fish over the winter season. Officials with the Department of Environmental Management’s Fish and Wildlife Division stocked approximately 2,000 rainbow trout in several ponds statewide during the first two weeks of December.
Those ponds include Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, Barber Pond in South Kingstown, Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown, and the Wood River with access from Route 165 in Exeter.
Aquaculture, the practice of farming fish and shellfish in the sea, is doing well in the Ocean State.
The good news for aquaculture farmers is the industry is growing. The Coastal Resources Management Council says the number of aquaculture farms increased in the last year from 43 to 50. The industry contributes 105 jobs to the local economy. CRMC’s David Beutel said the industry is healthy and will be able to adapt to climate change.
“That will be a change to our industry," he said. "But that is something that will be more easily handled.”
Leaders of the recreational fishing industry are holding a symposium Tuesday in Warwick. The industry wants to call attention to its economic importance to the state.
The recreational fishing industry in Rhode Island is much more than a kid with a pole in one hand, and Styrofoam cup full of night-crawlers in the other. Or so says the Vice President of the Saltwater Anglers Foundation, Rich Hittinger. He’s says the industry is a huge economic driver for the state, and one that’s often lost amid the struggles of its commercial fishing peers.