Aquaculture in Rhode Island: FREE Public Education Opportunities

Join the Coastal Resources Center & Rhode Island Sea Grant in a three-part public education experience on aquaculture in the Ocean State. Come and learn – from soup to nuts –what aquaculture is, looks like, and the policy and science. Join us for a detailed description of the history and science behind the 5% Rule for aquaculture in the salt ponds, learning from those who were there to shape the original policy. Share your ideas, concerns, and emerging opportunities you see in aquaculture throughout the events and these will be compiled and discussed in detail at a public forum in the summer. Events are stand-alone, so it is not required to attend all. All webinars will be made available online for those who wish to review and build individual understanding and fluency with aquaculture. All events are free and open to the public.

Please rsvp to for all below events


WEBINAR: Monday, October 24, 2016 from 5:30-6:30PM

“Aquaculture 101 for the Public” – Participate in this free, interactive Webinar, from your computer at home! Learn everything about aquaculture in Rhode Island – How many farms and acreage are in the state, a brief history and aquaculture’s beginnings, details about an aquaculture business and what it looks like on the farm, the different gear used, sound farm practices, ecological considerations, fun facts about shellfish, the policy around leases, the management process, the different agencies and groups involved, health and safety, and more. Learn also about some of the key science experiments underway in RI on aquaculture and hear future science needs and predications.


WEBINAR: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 from 4:00-5:00PM

“Understanding the 5% Rule for the Coastal Salt Ponds” – Participate in this free, interactive Webinar, from your computer at home! Learn from those who were involved in shaping the 5% Rule for aquaculture in Rhode Island’s coastal salt ponds. The rule states that no more than 5 percent of the salt pond area can be used for aquaculture. Hear the details about the science, policy, and decision-making that was involved to set the rule – Ask questions of those who were involved to gain a clear understanding of why the rule exists. The intention is to allow an open forum of knowledge and experience sharing so as to be better informed about what the rule is and is not.



“Addressing Concerns & Opportunities for Aquaculture in RI: A Public Conversation” – Join us at the URI/GSO Narragansett Bay Campus to discuss any and all issues/concerns as well as existing and emerging opportunities around aquaculture in RI. Building from the October and November webinars, compiling your questions and concerns, we will identify the major issues as well as opportunities related to aquaculture and how best to approach these in the short & long term from a policy, community engagement, and science perspective. Policy-makers, researchers, and industry will be present to help inform and shape a knowledge-based discussion with an engaged public. All webinars will be archived and available online for those who wish to review content before the public meeting. All are welcome to attend and help shape a productive & informed conversation. Light refreshments will be served.



Aquaculture in the Ocean State: FREE Summer Tours


What does a working shellfish farm look like up close?

What is a ‘shellfish restoration lease’ and how does it work?

Explore the answers to these questions and more this summer on our free public tours!

Hear from experts, including the “Pond to Plate” founder and owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar, the state’s Aquaculture Coordinator, and the head of the Jamestown Aquaculture Movement. Tour a working shellfish farm to see firsthand how they grow, and learn the value of shellfish restoration to our water quality and marine critters. Join us and shellfish experts to learn and discuss all aspects of shellfish farming in the Ocean State.

For adventurers! A “Wading” Tour of Matunuck Oyster Farm

Wednesday July 13, 2016
9:00AM – 11:30AM

The tour will meet in the parking lot of East Matunuck State Beach, 950 Succotash Rd, South Kingston, RI 02881.

Join Perry Raso (Owner/Operator of Matunuck Oyster Bar, Pam Lyons_Historic Perspectives of Ninigret Pond) and Dave Beutel, Aquaculture Coordinator, RI Coastal Resources Management Council for a wading tour of Perry’s shellfish growing operation in Potter Pond. The tour will start in the morning at the parking lot of East Matunuck State Beach. Good walking/water shoes required – Involves some adventuresome bush-whacking! RSVP today, limited spots available. Perry has invited ‘wading’ tour guests back to his award-winning Matunuck Oyster Bar for chowder & stuffies after the tour. Participants will also receive a free copy of the book, Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History. Please rsvp to SORRY, THIS TOUR IS FULL.

Shellfish Research in Jamestown

Monday August 15, 2016
10:00AM – 12:30PM

The tour will meet in the parking lot of the Melrose Avenue School, 76 Melrose Ave. Jamestown, RI 02835.

Join Phil Larson, founder of the Jamestown Aquaculture Movement, restoration experts, and Jamestown officials on a walking tour of an Oyster Research Site in Jamestown. Form a better understanding of what a research & education site does and come to know how one type of gear (floating) works for aquaculture. Sturdy shoes are required. Snacks & refreshments will be served and participants will receive a free copy of the book, Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History. Please rsvp to

The 5 Percent Rule:
The Science, History and Public Discussion

Monday, October 24, 2016 from 4:00-6:00PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 from 4:00-6:00PM
Both meetings will be held at the Coastal Institute at the URI Bay Campus

Join us this fall & winter to learn from those who were involved in shaping the “5 Percent Rule” for aquaculture in Rhode Island’s coastal salt ponds. The rule states that no more than 5 percent of the salt pond area can be used for aquaculture. Learn from scientists, policy-makers, and industry as they share the current biology and social science underway in Ninigret Pond related to aquaculture, past research that informed the 5 percent rule decision, and knowledge-sharing from those who were present in the original rule-setting. Join in the discussion during two meetings – Voice your opinions and experiences with the group and share ideas for future aquaculture management.

Events are hosted by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (URI GSO) Coastal Resources Center / Rhode Island Sea Grant, through grants from NOAA’s National Sea Grant office and the Sharpe Family Foundation/Henry and Peggy Sharpe, in collaboration with CRMC and Roger Williams University.

High School Culinary Student to Compete in Seafood Cook-off


Monday, May 9, 3-5 PM at the Chariho Area Career and Technical Center
459 Switch Road Wood River Junction, RI

Shared on behalf of RI Sea Grant:
“Save the date for this second annual Rhode Island Seafood Cook-off for high school culinary students, hosted at Chariho Area Career and Technical Center.

Student teams from the Chariho Area Career & Technical Center, the Warwick Area Career & Technical Center, the Cranston Career & Technical Center, and William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School will be serving up their own original recipes for local mussels. The audience will vote for their favorite preparation, and the winning team will have their recipe featured at Trio restaurant in Narragansett, RI. They will also win their choice of lunch or dinner at 22Bowen’s restaurant, courtesy of Chef Casey Riley and the Newport Restaurant Group, and other prizes.

Robert Rheault, executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, will speak to the audience about the economic importance and environmental benefits of shellfish aquaculture, including farm-raised mussels, for Rhode Island.

The mussels for this event are donated by American Mussel Harvesters of North Kingstown, RI.

The event is free to attend, but RSVPs are required. Please call Rhode Island Sea Grant at (401) 874-6805 or email

Sponsors of the 2016 Rhode Island Seafood Cook-off are the Chariho Area Career & Technical Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the URI Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.


Ninigret Pond: Historical Perspectives and Current Uses

learn about ninigret

Join us for this joint presentation by Pam Lyons of the Charlestown Historical Society, Sarah Schumann, author of Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History, and Matt Behan of Behan Family Farms.

Monday, February 22, 2016
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Kettle Pond Visitors Center, 50 Bend Road, Charlestown, RI

Rhode Island’s salt ponds have a long, vibrant history.  With a focus on Ninigret Pond, this talk will explore post-colonial pond life, feature historical maps and photographs, and examine critical contexts of a changing landscape and the growth of shellfish farming.  Refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP to Azure Cygler, Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant extension specialist, at

This talk is the first in a series of educational presentations about Rhode Island’s salt ponds and their uses, especially shellfish farming.  Join us and hear from experts, tour a working shellfish farm, visit a shellfish nursery, and talk to community members, policy-makers, and researchers.  To see other upcoming events, go to

This series is sponsored by Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Resources Center at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, in collaboration with Roger Williams University and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, supported by a grant from the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program.

California Sea Grant Research Informs New Law to Permit Fishermen’s Markets

This article was written by Deborah Seiler of the California Sea Grant illustrates how California  has improved their fish markets.  California just adopted a bill dubbed the “Pacific to Plate” that would allow “fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities, vendors to clean their fish for direct sale, and multiple fishermen to organize a market under a single permit.”  A survey in 2013 demonstrated that there is a widespread demand for local seafood. In August when the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market opened its doors it drew more than 1300 customers in five hours.

To read more about the “Pacific to Plate” bill click here.

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

The Secret Life of Whelks


Shared on behalf of 41°N, Rhode Island’s Ocean and Coastal Magazine, a publication of Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island.

by Rudi Hempe
Photos by Melissa Devine

“Underwater, whelks are slow moving sea snails that like to pry open and devour quahogs. They are also the unlikely focus of a campaign by an energetic woman who catches them for a living to protect her chosen occupation.”

“Katie Eagan is a whelk fisherman, or as she and most of the other 200 – plus whelk fishermen in Rhode Island prefer to call themselves, a “conch fisherman,” even though the larger and quite different conchs live in far warmer waters down South.”

“At age 30, Eagan has fallen in love with a job that requires her to get up at dawn seven days a week to cruise parts of Narragansett Bay harvesting creatures that end up on plates in Asia and in the popular “snail salad” state side.”

Check out the full article here

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).

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