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This section is intended as a tool to provide growers, harvesters, managers, and those interested in restoration with a list of selected resources relevant to the SMP process.


DEM Office of Water Resources – The purpose of this program is to restore, preserve, and enhance the water quality of Rhode Island waters, to maintain existing uses and to protect the waters from pollutants so that the waters shall, where attainable, be fishable and swimmable, and be available for all designated uses and thus assure protection for the public health welfare, and the environment.

NOAA’s Office of Aquaculture – The mission of the Office of Aquaculture is to foster marine aquaculture that creates employment and business opportunities in coastal communities; provides safe, sustainable seafood; and supports healthy ocean populations and ecosystems.
Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center – NRAC lies at the heart of 21st century expansion and diversification of a northeastern aquaculture industry, which will grow by using advanced production technologies to compete in the global marketplace. NRAC will aid the industry to become economically viable and environmentally sustainable, helping aquaculture to become a significant component of Northeast agriculture and an essential complement to wild capture fisheries.

The RI Coastal Resources Management Council – The Coastal Resources Management Council is a management agency with regulatory functions. Its primary responsibility is for the preservation, protection, development and where possible the restoration of the coastal areas of the state via the issuance of permits for work with the coastal zone of the state.

Rhode Island Geographic Information System – The RI GIS mission is to monitor, coordinate, and provide leadership for activities related to the use of GIS technology in Rhode Island. Maintained by the University of Rhode Island


The following documents and resources are listed in order of publication or print date.

News Articles

Innovative Oyster Production Takes a Big Step Forward, State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection (2012) [news release]. The NJ DEM has developed four Aquaculture Development Zones (ADZ) for their state waters in an effort to improve the $20 million dollar/ year, Delaware Bay oyster industry. By advancing the economic viability of these zones the industry is better protected and the ecological health of these zones has increased due to enhanced protective measures. Also mentions off-shore permits in other zones as prime for both shellfish and macroalgae/seaweed production.

The Great Oyster Crash: Ocean acidification hits the Pacific shellfish industry by Eric Scigliano, OnEarth, August 2011. In this 2011 article, Scigliano investigates Vibrio, ocean acidification and other threats to shellfishing in the Pacific region. Particularly illuminating are Alan Barton’s comments on ocean acidification at the end of the piece. For more information, check out this Q and A with NRDC senior scientist Lisa Suatoni on acidic oceans.
Scientists study the effects of ocean acidification on the Gulf of Maine by Peter Mcdougall, The Working Waterfront (October, 2009). This article focuses on Dr. Mark Green’s research in Maine. While atmospheric CO2 is one of the main causes of ocean acidification, the impacts on coastal muds has also been a result of human activities. Mollusks (includes bivalves), are considered to be indicator organisms for high acidity. The increased mortality of juveniles has been shown to subside when crushed shells have been added to the coastal muds, increasing the availability of carbonate ions in the water (used in shell creation).


The Economics of Climate Change: Risk to RI Aquaculture, Thomas W. Sproul, Kyle Montanio & Mallory Frank, URI (2013). Warmer waters bring about trouble for aquaculturists in the form of diseases, such as Dermo and MSX. This team ran computer simulations to model oyster growth and disease mortality (disease-resistant, slow-growing oysters vs. less-resistant, fast-growing ones) in the context of water temperatures in different climate change scenarios. Depending on the amount of risk an aquaculturist will accept and the severity of climate change, different combinations of these oysters could be used to mitigate disease risk.

NROC White Paper: Overview of the Aquaculture Sector in New England by George Lapointe, Northeast Regional Ocean Council (2013). This paper describes the current status of the aquaculture sector in New England, as well as key issues and trends that are relevant to aquaculture, including issues that provide context but may not be related to ocean planning. It is meant to serve as a starting place for discussion between NROC and sector leaders/participants on key issues and challenges facing this sector. The document was written to be fluid/adaptable based on the results of these interactions with stakeholders.

2013 Management Plan for the Shellfish Fishery Sector, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (November, 2012). This document is broken up into 4 individual fishery sections: Quahaug, Soft-shell Clams, Whelks, and ‘Other’ (Oysters, Blue Mussels, Razor Clams). It examines the annual commercial landing for each fishery, and offers fishery-specific information on each, such as current resource assessment and recommendations for management & licensing. Future management considerations and recommendations are made for some of these, and the advice of the RIMFC is given on the three major shellfish fisheries.

Summary: Aquaculture Sector Working Session, Northeast Regional Ocean Council (December, 2012). NROC organized a series of 3 working sessions for members of the aquaculture sector in New England as part of a regional planning effort. The three main topics of these sessions were permits & leasing, current & future space needs/compatibilities for aquaculture, and aquaculture sector data. This summary provides a synthesis of comments and questions from these working sessions [CT, MA, ME], capturing the key themes and ideas that were mentioned with the greatest frequency.

Carbonate Mineral Saturation State as the Recruitment Cue for Settling Bivalves in Marine Muds by M. Green, et al., Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (2012). Juvenile bivalves undergo a transitional phase in the benthic sediments of their home range where they explore and then accept/reject sediments. Little is known about the settlement cues the juveniles follow to productive shell-growth environments. In this paper, the authors provide evidence that ‘mineral thermodynamics’ may be the overarching cue eliciting response from new settlers to a benthic environment.

Aquaculture in Rhode Island: 2011 Annual Status Report, by David Beutel, CRMC (2011). This paper provides information about comparisons between 2010 and 2011 Rhode Island shellfisheries data. It specifically looks at aquaculture farm productivity in terms of industry dollar value, the dominant species of aquaculture in state, and employment rates within the industry. It reviews institutions doing valuable research in RI (Roger Williams U; URI) concerning aquaculture, and concludes with the outlook for 2012.

Best Management Practices for Shellfish Restoration by Dorothy Leonard & Sandra Macfarlane, ISSC Shellfish Restoration Committee (2011). This paper has a general, nation-wide approach to shellfish management and restoration, stating that the decline of shellfish abundance coupled with compromised water quality spurred the project. The objectives of the project were to establish best management practices including protocols for educational programs, and safeguards to ensure that shellfish are raised in approved waters.

Mapping Shallow Coastal Ecosystems: A Case Study of a Rhode Island Lagoon by M. Stolt, et al., Coastal Education and Research Foundation (2011). This paper presents a systematic approach to mapping Rhode Island’s shallow subtidal coastal lagoon ecosystems. Multiple data sets were integrated and reconciled with one another to identify the geology, soils, biological communities, and environments that, together, define different shallow-subtidal habitat. They present their data from Quonochontaug Pond, Rhode Island as an example of these protocols and procedures in action.

Oyster Shell Dissolution Rates in Estuarine Waters: Effects of pH and Shell Legacy by G. G. Waldbusser, et al., National Shellfisheries Association (2011). Oyster shell is a vital component of a healthy oyster reef, and as such, understanding the cycling/lifetime of shell mass (shell legacy) is becoming more important, especially with increasing concerns over ocean acidification (low pH). In this paper, the researchers found that while shells do lose mass even under noncorrosive conditions, lower pH levels do lead to increasing dissolution rates.

Death by Dissolution: Sediment Saturation State as a Mortality Factor for Juvenile Bivalves by M. Green, et al., University of Maryland, St. Joseph’s College (2009). Death by dissolution (or the breaking-down of shell material) is an important, size dependent mortality factor for juvenile bivalves; the smaller the shellfish, the more likely it is to face death due to dissolution. The buffering of muds against lower saturation states (associated with low pH values) via the addition of crushed shell material to a patch may represent a potentially important management strategy to increase juvenile bivalve survival rates. (A note on the link: to download the document, click the link under “Click to Download Full Text”.)

The Social and Environmental Impacts of Industrial Aquaculture in Washington State, Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat (2009). This review cites continuous change/disruption & modification of ecosystem, elimination of native species, use of invasive species correlated with high ecological impacts, restriction of public’s right to shoreline use, and consumer health issues (eating shellfish, aka – “nature’s cleaning service”), as the main impacts of new, large-scale aquaculture operations of Puget Sound. Policy and regulation short-comings are reviewed.

Coastal Acidification by Rivers: A Threat to Shellfish? by J. Salisbury, et al., University of New Hampshire, St. Joseph’s College (2008). Ocean acidification has been attributed to many different factors, but coastal marine ecosystems are often subject to acidification via river water; while river plumes have generally been acidic when compared to the receiving ocean, “the chemical nature and magnitude of discharge” are changing – in part due to climate change and land-use practices. Acidification of shellfish habitat has been shown to prevent or reverse the growth of vital shell tissues.

A Brief History of Oyster Aquaculture in Rhode Island by Michael A. Rice, University of Rhode Island (2006). Starting back as far as 1643, this document works through the history of shellfishing in Rhode Island, concentrating on shellfishing industry’s oscillating rise and decline. It places a particular emphasis on the Oyster Aquaculture sector in RI.

A Practitioners Guide to the Design & Monitoring of Shellfish Restoration Projects, Robert D. Brumbaugh, Michael W. Beck, Loren D. Coen, Leslie Craig & Polly Hicks (2006). Bivalve restoration projects have been on the upward trend in the US, with the public becoming involved in local, state and federal government restoration efforts, through education and direct involvement. This guide was written to help those involved with these types of restoration projects to: make the case for the restoration work, identify focal species for the project (or broader restoration strategies), choose project sites, monitor those sites, and create effective partnerships for the effort.

Proceedings of the Third Rhode Island Shellfisheries Conference (1994). Held at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Proceedings of the Second Rhode Island Shellfisheries Conference (1992). Held at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Narragansett, Rhode Island.

The Northern Quahog: The Biology of Mercenaria mercenaria by Michael A. Rice (1992).

A Species Profile of the Quahog in RI by Sheldon D. Pratt, Arthur R. Ganz, Micheal A. Rice (1992).

Proceedings of the First Rhode Island Shellfisheries Conference (1990). Held at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Narragansett, Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Quahogger: Candidate for the List of Endangered Species? by James M. Korney, University of Rhode Island (1981). This thesis concentrates on the hypothesis that the livelihood of the independent Narragansett Bay quahogger was faced with two potentially critical threats: water pollution in the upper regions of the bay, and the prospect of an expanding aquaculture industry in the lower bay. It examines the legal, political, economic and environmental effects of these two factors on the Rhode Island quahog fishery.

Videos and Other Documentation

Clam Wars (2012)“Citing allegations ranging from destruction of marine life and habitat, to the illegal taking of shellfish from public clamming and oyster beds”, the North Oyster Bay Baymen’s Association filed a $750 million dollar lawsuit in Nassau County, NY. This suit is specifically against the town of Oyster Bay, and Frank M. Flower & Sons Inc. The local fishermen here are interviewed about their love for shellfishing, and specific incidents/problems they have had with Frank M. Flower & Sons Inc.

Understanding the RI Legislative process and Developing “Green” bills (2012) [Powerpoint presentation] by Mike Rice. Overview of the RI legislative process and uses the example of the revamping of the aquaculture laws allowing the current growth of the shellfish aquaculture industry to happen

Maine Ocean Acidification with Mark Green (2011) [Video]. Saint Joseph’s College professor Mark Green explains effects of ocean acidification on shellfish larvae in Maine.

Quahoggers (2008) [film]. Quahoggers explores the working life of two shellfishermen in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. By following them, the film looks at the past, present and uncertain future of the quahogging industry. See the trailer here.

Industrial Shellfish Aquaculture is converting Puget Sound Aquatic Habitat to Agricultural Use: How much expansion is good for Puget Sound? Coalition to Preserve Puget Sound Habitat (2007) [slideshow]. The CPPSH’s goal is to “protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands in relation to expansion of new intensive shellfish aquaculture methods and practices”. Focusing on Puget Sound Geoduck farms, this presentation addresses concerns such as: habitat degradation & fragmentation, conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural use (the extent/ rate of this expansion), invasive species, disease, and interference with recreational/residential public uses, to name a few.

Project Websites

Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force: “President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes on July 19, 2010. That Executive Order adopts the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and directs Federal agencies to take the appropriate steps to implement them.”

Community Fisheries Network – A group of community-based fishing organizations from across the country, with the goal of increasing the long-term sustainability of fishing communities.

MapCoast – An effort to map, inventory, describe, and classify coastal soils and sediments in Rhode Island.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
– Information on Rhode Island soils mapping, including freshwater and coastal zone mapping.

New Hampshire Seafood – A site supporting New Hampshire fishermen and businesses, including a “Local Promise” brand label on local fish products.

NOAA Fish Watch
provides information about sustainable seafood choices.

Oyster Gardening for Restoration and Enhancement, Roger Williams University
– Using seed grown at Roger William hatchery in Bristol, this program utilizes volunteers and schools to plant oysters and grow oyster reefs for restoration purposes.

Oyster Recovery Partnership
is a non-profit effort to restore oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.