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.”
Shell fishermen are banned from fishing in the Upper Narragansett Bay. The Department of Environmental Management has found high levels of bacteria in the water.
DEM’s Chief of Surface Water Protection, Angelo Liberti, says it’s due to a portion of the Bucklin Point Wastewater Treatment plant in East Providence being taken offline. "And with the last rain event, they had some trouble balancing their treatment flow through their system which resulted in the release of partially treated wastewater.”
The state is creating its first ever statewide Shellfish Management Plan. It's seeking advice on the plan from people involved in aquaculture, fishing and restoration. But why does the state think such a plan is critical for the species to thrive?
Shellfish restoration is the topic at a meeting Thursday at the University of Rhode Island. The state wants input on how best to protect shellfish in coastal ponds and Narragansett Bay. The Director of the US Coastal Program at URI’s Coastal Resource Center, Jen McCann, says the state has so far heard about two main concerns… “What is the regulatory process to move forward with restoration? And also, where are the appropriate sites to do restoration in the bay and also the salt ponds so within state waters.”