Summer 2015 stakeholder meeting recap


The meeting was recorded and is available for viewing at LiveStream:

Presentations and meeting info is available on the SMP website at:

A special thanks to the following individuals:

Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar who donated oysters & clams for our shucking demonstration. Can we say “Yum!?”

Bob Rheault from the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association for teaching us how to shuck safely and for offering important tips for keeping shellfish cold and safe for consumption. I hope you have all been buying local shellfish and practicing at home!

Matt Griffin from Roger Williams University, Center for Economic & Environmental Development for presenting valuable and interesting science on shellfish restoration efforts in the state.

Maria Vasta, recent graduate of the URI Marine Affairs Program, for sharing her thesis work investigating agritourism potential for shellfish aquaculture through a nation-wide survey of growers.


Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) Stakeholder Meeting

Come join us for the 2015 SMP stakeholder meeting

 Please join us for a Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) Stakeholder Meeting
Thursday, June 25th, 2015, 5:00-7:00pm
Corless Auditorium, URI Bay Campus (map attached)

Want to learn how to safely shuck a clam and oyster?

Interested in growing oysters at your dock?

Wondering how you can go clamming with an expert this summer?

All this info and more at our next SMP stakeholder meeting!

Come hear progress since the launch of the SMP in November, including work on implementing the SMP recommendations, more shellfish research money available for 2016, clamming classes hosted by DEM, what you need to know/do to keep your shellfish safe for consumption, and a feature presentation on the ins and outs of shellfish restoration in Rhode Island. As a special treat, learn from a long-time quahogger how to properly shuck shellfish – Live demo and tasting included! We will also hear a URI students thesis results

Fruit, cookies, and beverages will be provided. Please rsvp to Feel free to call Azure at (401)874-6197 if you have any questions/concerns.



Invitation to attend the NECAN ocean acidification stakeholders workshop for Rhode Island

Date: June 5, 2015
9am to 4pm
: University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography Coastal Institute Building
218 South Ferry Rd., Narragansett RI, 02882

The Northeast Coastal Acidification Network (NECAN) and local partners, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, would like to invite you to participate in a workshop on coastal water issues having to do with Ocean and Coastal Acidification (OCA) that could affect the livelihood and future of fishing, aquaculture, and other coastal communities in Rhode Island.

The purpose of this workshop is for stakeholders to become better informed about OCA and for NECAN to gain knowledge from the stakeholders in order to develop an implementation plan for addressing OCA in the Northeast.

You are being invited as a representative of your:

·         Industry as a key leader in fishing, lobstering, or shellfish harvesting

·         Industry as a key leader in an aquaculture business

·         Agency or organization working on water quality or marine resources

The purpose of this workshop is to inform and learn from fishermen, aquaculturists, and coastal water quality groups regarding Ocean and Coastal Acidification.

Participants will: gain an understanding of the basic science of ocean and coastal acidification science, and the impacts to marine resources and ecosystem; discuss the potential for best practices leading to adaptation; help us understand what the priorities should be for monitoring and research; and have access to reliable resources.

There is no cost to attend and per-registration is required.  To sign up, click here.  Please note that filling out this form is not a formal reservation.  We will contact you about your registration status shortly.  Lunch will be provided.

The day will include an overview presentation on the state of the science of ocean and coastal acidification, presentations from local industry representatives, and breakout sessions to hear more about changes you are seeing on the water, and what NECAN should focus on moving forward.

More information about NECAN can be found at

We welcome your participation and hope you are able to attend,

Cassie Stymiest, NERACOOS
On behalf of NECAN and Partners

Please contact us if you need more information:

Cassie Stymiest,



Coastal Acidification Workshop

Shared on behalf of Rhode Island Sea Grant

Coastal Acidification Workshop

Rhode Island Sea Grant is pleased to support the June 5 Ocean and Coastal Acidification (OCA) Workshop for Rhode Island. This event is sponsored by The Northeast Coastal Acidification Network (NECAN) and local partners, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of this workshop is for stakeholders (e.g., fishing, aquaculture, water quality/marine resources management/NGO) to become better informed about OCA and for NECAN to gain knowledge from the stakeholders in order to develop an implementation plan for addressing OCA in the Northeast. If you are interested in attending this workshop, please see the attached invitation and agenda.

Please direct any questions to Cassie Stymiest,

Spring 2015 SMP Newsletter

Welcome and long-live the long-awaited SPRING! We hope you’re all bustling like birds and bees with house, farm, and fishing projects. We’ve all survived the winter and now it’s time to look ahead to bright and productive spring & summer seasons!

On the SMP front, work has continued. Some news to share:

    • The SMP Implementation Team, composed of state and industry leaders, is hard at work developing a strategy to make your SMP recommendations happen.
    • A SMP stakeholder meeting will be held on Thurs. June 25th, 5:00-7:00pm in Corless Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus to discuss the SMP Implementation of recommendations,research opportunities, and upcoming events. Feature presentation on shellfish restoration work by RWU’s Matt Griffin.
    • The SMP Team is working hard in partnership with our state and national leadership to formally launch a Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative, in alignment with NOAA’s National Shellfish Initiative. A state initiative will keep the focus and momentum on shellfish resources, industries, and local seafood promotion in the state as well as generate new and exciting synergies and opportunities.
    • RI DEM, the wild harvest shellfish industry, and the Department of Health successfully crafted new shellfish handling regulations to help maintain the excellent reputation for quality and safety of Rhode Island-harvested shellfish. Full regulations can be found here on page 26.
    • Rhode Island Sea Grant is offering funding for 2016-2018 research projects related
      to: a) improved understanding of shellfish stock assessment and populations, and b) impacts of climate change on finfish and shellfish in Narragansett Bay. More info can be found here; proposals are due June 1st.
    • Be sure to join the shellfish community and our state leadership on May 28th, 11:30am- 5:00pm for Agriculture Day at the State House in Providence. Amongst the festivities & food, the winners of this year’s Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants will be announced.
    • Looking down the pike, some events to mark on your calendars: The 4th Annual  Quahoggers Jamboree on June 24th from 5-8pm at the Warwick Library; 2nd Annual Oyster Festival on June 21st @ 11am in Bristol ; August 7/8/9th is the annual Charlestown Seafood Festival; Sept. 12/13th is the Rhode Island Seafood Festival in Galilee; and Sept.19th is the Ocean State Oyster Festival in Providence.  These are only some of the many shellfish-related events sure to happen this summer. Stay tuned; we’ll post more as we hear of them. If you have an event to share, please email us!
    • Summer season is approaching which means digging your own shellfish! Remember to KEEP IT COLD! Bring ice packs and a cooler with you to the clam flats, do not leave shellfish in a hot car, and refrigerate in a dry bowl when you return home. Cold shellfish are safe shellfish!
    • RI DEM will be carrying on the SMP tradition and hosting three “Clamming 101” classes this summer. Dates to be decided; contact Kim.Sullivan@DEM.RI.Gov for more info and to sign up.
    • Reminder: In February, the RI DEM Office of Water Resources’ Shellfish Program went live with a new and improved website, complete with an interactive shellfish map and new email address going directly to shellfish program staff to better respond to missing/damaged signs or data requests. The email: and website.

Remember, the SMP document can be found at:  There will be future opportunity to update the SMP; we’ll keep you posted. Hope to see you soon! As always, feel free to contact us or stop by to share news/events/concerns. or 401.874.6197.

Thank you,
The SMP Team

Public Input Sought on New State Plan to Improve Shellfish Resources

Public Input Sought on New State Plan to Improve Shellfish Resources

Plan topics include research, shellfish restoration, and industry supported activities

The public is invited to review a draft of Rhode Island’s first comprehensive set of management recommendations for shellfish resources, both wild harvest and aquaculture, located in state ocean waters, and provide comments. The review process is a key topic of the SMP Stakeholder Public Meeting scheduled for tonight, Monday, September 29, 5-7pm, Corless Auditorium, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI. Other topics include SMP progress and actions over the last year, chapter overviews, future steps, and summer highlights from industry leaders and state agencies. Find the preliminary version of the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) and comment form at

Comments will be accepted through November 1. “We encourage anyone who cares about the future of all things shellfish in Rhode Island – from the shellfish resources themselves to the industries that depend on them to the recommendations for how we can work together to improve shellfishing – to come out for this meeting,” said Azure Cygler, project manager for the SMP, of the URI (Graduate School of Oceanography) Coastal Resources Center (CRC), who also represents the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program.

The SMP process began in 2013 to provide comprehensive policy guidance regarding management and protection measures for shellfish, such as quahogs and oysters, located in state marine waters, with the full plan expected to be completed this fall. Throughout the process, stakeholders – including representatives of the wild harvest, aquaculture and restoration communities — have been closely involved in identifying policies and practices to restore shellfish resources and enhance the economic vitality of the shellfishing industry. The plan will be updated as new research and information becomes available. A special celebration to honor the creation of the plan is being developed. For more information on the SMP, contact Cygler at (401) 874-6197 or

The SMP contains recommendations which have been crafted by technical teams and facilitated by CRC and the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program for use by two key state agencies: the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM). Key partners are URI College of Environmental Sciences (URI-CELS), Roger Williams University and the URI Coastal Institute. Funders are the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, and the Sharpe Family Foundation/Henry and Peggy Sharpe. Input throughout has been provided generously by leaders in the industry, including the Rhode Island Shellfishermen’s Association and the Ocean State Aquaculture Association.

Harvesters Help Find Quahogs

From Rhode Island Sea Grant

Dale Leavitt, a researcher and faculty member at Roger Williams University, has calibrated bullrakes used by commercial clam harvesters to compare assessments made by hydraulic dredges used by RI Department of Environmental Management to assess population.

This is the first part of research to better understand where quahogs in the Bay come from and travel to manage potential spawning and settlement areas.

“We wanted to look at assessment tools to take advantage of the commercial fishing fleet and see if there was an alternative for stock assessment,” said Leavitt in a presentation at the Shellfish Management Plan stakeholder meeting in April. “But we needed to see if a bullrake could be used to give accurate measurements.”

The trick, Leavitt said, is knowing how much of the bottom was sampled by a bullrake to make accurate comparisons with a hydraulic dredge used by RI DEM. In order to do that, Leavitt has found a way to “calibrate” harvesters so their data seamlessly meshed with those of RI DEM.

This new methodology allows commercial quahoggers to collect scientifically valid population assessment data and present that for use in official state stock assessments.

Research will continue this summer and will also look at circulation patters to predict quahog dispersal.

This project is supported by RI Sea Grant, the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and the Southern New England Collaborative Research Initiative (SNECRI).

Following up: Use Conflicts in Narragansett Bay

This article is a follow-up to the May 15th SMP Stakeholder Meeting Presentation:
Room Enough for Everyone? Understanding Human Uses & Interactions in RI Coastal Waters
Tracey Dalton (Associate Professor, URI Marine Affairs)
Robert Thompson (Associate Professor & Chair, URI Marine Affairs)
Download the presentation (pdf).
View the presentation on Slideshare.

By Tracey Dalton

Thanks for giving us an opportunity to talk about human uses and interactions at the SMP stakeholder meeting in May.  We hope that our presentation provided some insights and generated more discussion on social carrying capacity.  Like social carrying capacity, many of the key issues raised so far in the SMP process relate to people and how they think and what they do in Rhode Island’s waters.  For those of us who devote a lot of time to studying people who work, live and spend time in coastal areas, this presents a great opportunity to help address important issues right here in RI.  We appreciate this chance to follow-up on your questions.  While we’re trying to keep things brief here, we are willing to talk more about any of these issues—feel free to contact Rob or me directly (see contact information below).

First, there were some follow-up questions on our Bayscape project that mapped human uses in the upper Narragansett Bay.  Rob and I didn’t spend too much time in our talk going over the details of that project, so we wanted to fill you in on it a bit more.  We received some funding from the RI Sea Grant to map human activities in the upper Narragansett Bay (from Conimicut point into the Seekonk River) during the summers of 2006 and 2007.  For that project, Rob, myself, and several undergraduate and graduate students traveled up and down the upper Bay on twenty-five randomly selected days each summer.  With the use of some high-tech equipment, we were able to record all activities going on on-the-water (such as quahogging, shipping, sailing, and many others) and along the shoreline (such as biking or recreational fishing).  We created maps of the activities and analyzed if any particular features (such as weather conditions, availability of parking near access points, days of the week) were influencing what people were doing.  Our study showed that this type of observational approach can provide useful insights about the levels and types of activities going on in an area, but its results are pretty specific to the upper Bay during the time of our study.  That is why we are interested in extending this earlier work to other areas in Rhode Island and applying it to specific management issues, like shellfish planning and management.  Right now, we are writing proposals to conduct some follow-up studies, and we’d be interested in hearing from you about ways to make them as useful as possible.  Feel free to send us an email or give us a call.

Second, there were some questions that related to social science more generally.  It seems that many SMP participants are more familiar with–and probably more comfortable with–the tools of natural science than those of social science.  That isn’t too surprising.  Just think, when you hear “scientist”, you probably conjure up an image of someone wearing  a white lab coat and swirling a test tube or someone trekking through a salt marsh collecting specimens.  Not many of us would think of someone sitting on a dock listening to the observations, stories, and reflections of fishermen.  But what many people don’t realize is that all three of these individuals could be doing science.  Like chemists, ecologists and other natural scientists, social scientists such as anthropologists, economists, and political scientists use systematic methods to collect data and rigorous analytical techniques to make sense of it.  Our data just happen to be on people—how they think, act, and manage their behaviors—rather than on the natural environment.  Luckily for us, there are many well-established social science techniques that we can use to collect and analyze these types of data.

Finally, the question was raised about how social science can be used to inform coastal planning and management.  This is not an easy question to answer.  In fact, there are social scientists and other researchers who specialize in this very topic–trying to understand how to effectively integrate sound science (from natural & social sciences) into resource management decisions.   Most of these researchers agree that science and management should not be thought of as two separate processes, where a study is first conducted by a scientist and then the results are used by decision makers to solve a problem.  Instead, scientists and other participants in the decision making process have to work together throughout the process to shape the science and how it might be used to solve problems.  The good news is that interactions between scientists and SMP participants have been happening throughout the SMP process.  Early discussions of SMP participants identified a number of important issues, including user conflict, social carrying capacity, compliance & enforcement, and agency coordination, that could be better understood through the use of social science tools.  Ideally, social scientists and other SMP participants will continue to interact as projects are developed, data gets collected & analyzed, and findings become part of the broader discussions on RI shellfish planning and management.

Thanks again for this chance to follow-up on our talk.  If you have questions, comments or general feedback, please contact us by email or phone:

Tracey Dalton, URI Department of Marine Affairs, or 401-874-2434
Robert Thompson, URI Department of Marine Affairs, or 401-874-4485

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