URI, DEM form R.I. Marine Fisheries Institute

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New partnership will enhance collaboration, support sustainable fisheries

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – May 8, 2014 – The University of Rhode Island and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management recently announce the establishment of the R.I. Marine Fisheries Institute, a new partnership aimed at coordinating marine fisheries science, research, and educational activities of priority importance in Rhode Island.

The Institute will serve as a link between the marine fisheries programs at DEM and URI and as a focal point for collaboration with the Rhode Island fishing industry. Based on the successful model developed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the University of Massachusetts, the new institute’s mission is to promote sustainable fisheries by providing timely information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage Rhode Island’s marine fisheries resources through research, education and public service. Its partnership-based approach, drawing upon close ties with Rhode Island’s marine fishing industry, will leverage collective state assets to better understand and manage Rhode Island’s marine resources.

“This is a model that puts Rhode Island’s best foot forward: marine fisheries scientists, researchers, and managers from the state agency and the state university, working together with industry to develop strong science to inform the fisheries management process and achieve robust and sustainable fisheries,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Our human and fiscal resources are limited, but by combining our talents and expertise, and sharing our vessels and equipment, we can better leverage our state assets to more effectively address our strategic priorities for marine fisheries.”

“The Graduate School of Oceanography is delighted to be working with the Department of Environmental Management to form a marine fisheries institute, which continues a long-standing collaboration between GSO and state agencies to steward marine resources in the state,” said GSO Dean Bruce Corliss. “This institute will bring together science, policy, management and educational expertise to provide critical information to manage marine fisheries in Rhode Island and insure the vitality and success of marine fisheries in the years to come.”

The primary objectives of the institute will be to develop and undertake innovative and practical fisheries research projects that will contribute to the scientific understanding and sound management of the marine fisheries resources of the state and region, and to the economic growth and stability of the commercial and recreational fishing industries that rely upon those resources.

The R.I. Marine Fisheries Institute will seek out and support research projects involving faculty, professional researchers, technical staff, and graduate and undergraduate students from URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography and College of the Environment and Life Sciences, in addition to marine fisheries programs administered by DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. The projects will be collaborative in nature with Rhode Island’s fishing industry, both recreational and commercial. The ideas for the collaborative projects will be developed through periodic steering meetings to be held between the institute and Rhode Island fishing industry stakeholders.