Contact Information:
Fisheries Center
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881.
Phone: (401)874-5063.
Fax: (401)789-8930.

Outreach and Extension

Understanding that knowledge is power, we place that power in the hands of Rhode Islanders and help them learn how to use it to improve the quality of their lives. Our specialists work with University staff to form a network of educators whose classrooms are the communities, homes, and businesses of Rhode Island, where they bring research-based solutions to the problems facing Rhode Islanders today.

To better utilize our resources, we form collaborations with many public and private partners and volunteers, who help us reach larger and more diverse audiences and also leverage the impact of our work.

We are a product of cooperation among local, state, and federal governments in partnership with thousands of citizens, who help design, implement, and evaluate our needs-driven programs.

We are a dynamic organization that stimulates positive personal and societal and economic change, leading to more productive lives, families, and fisheries resources as well as a better environment.

While many of our programs are conducted locally, we also use current communications technology including computer networking and Skype. As part of the national land-grant university system, we also access the knowledge and expertise of other state land-grant universities throughout the U.S.

Serving as a bridge between university-based research and its potential users, the Fisheries Extension Program brings together the experience and expertise of specialists in healthy fisheries resources, sustainable fisheries for food production, food security, natural and resource economics, science education, conservation and culture through applied research and related fields to offer information, instruction, and advice to a range of stakeholders. The Fisheries Extension Program's specialists conduct research and training seminars, produce targeted publications and videos, and develop websites and other media.

Please use this website to become more familiar with URI Fisheries Extension. We encourage you to contact any member of the staff if you have questions or needs we can address.

Current projects [click on project titles for more details]

The Value of Local Knowledge: How Can we Combine Local and Scientific Knowledge for Lobsters in Southern New England?

Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) is the knowledge held by a group about their local ecosystem and considers humans as part of the ecological system. Local fishermen have developed detailed knowledge of lobster behavior, seasonal patterns, abundance and distribution, all gained in their years spent on the water. The goal of this project is to conduct interviews with both long-time fishermen and relative newcomers, who have different knowledge, in order to capture historical and current information. Trends from LEK interviews can be quantified using statistical methods and may be used to complement scientific information for better resource management. By working with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, which manages the state lobster fishery, the data collected will go into stock assessments.

TAA – Business Plan Development for the Lobster Industry

TAA for Farmers provides free technical assistance and cash benefits to producers of agricultural commodities and to fishermen who have been adversely affected by import competition. Because the price of lobster declined beginning in 2008, it was an approved commodity for TAA. Participants that were approved for the program attend intensive training workshops designed by extension specialists to specifically help them increase profitability, improve production efficiency, consider marketing opportunities, and evaluate alternative enterprises. Program participants also get access to a personal business planning consultant to facilitate their transition to starting a new business. When all phases of the training are complete, funding is provided to implement changes or cover start up costs associated with new businesses. The sum of all these resources provides producers with a package of benefits that will help them compete with foreign competition and generate higher profits.

Squid Trawl Network

The Squid Trawl Network (STN) was created to establish a collaborative industry, science and management network approach to solving the bycatch challenges of the Southern New England (SNE) squid fishery. To accomplish this, a collaborative industry/science network was established to determine ways to reduce specific bycatch species occurring in the squid fishery. In addition, an extension outreach program was created to assure dissemination of information across a wide spectrum of squid fishery stakeholders, creating a feedback loop and sense of participant empowerment and responsibility.
An important goal of this collaborative was to allow for innovative research that resulted in profound solutions. The STN fully embraces the collaborative structure of the Northeast Cooperative Research Program to improve performance, efficiency, and adaptability. The University of Rhode Island Fisheries Center is one of the many partners involved in the STN whose successful projects will be combined to achieve regional coordination and improve conservation gear technology. URI has completed two projects that are included in the research results of this collaborative.

  • The Reduction of Butterfish and Scup Bycatch in the Inshore Loligo Squid Fishery
  • Exploring Bycatch Reduction of Summer, Winter, Yellowtail, and Windowpane Flounders Using the (12 inch) Drop Chain Trawl Net Design in the Small Mesh Fishery
For more detailed information on these projects, see the Research section of the website.

Development and Implementation of Co-Management in the Gambia and Senegal

Worldwide, there are over 500 species of flatfish including flounders, sole, turbots, halibut, sand dab, plaice and tonguefish. Flatfish resources abound in the eastern Atlantic and are exploited as directed fisheries or often as bycatch fisheries. In The Gambia, the primary species belong to the sole and tongue sole families (Soleidae and Cynoglossidae, respectively). These valuable fish form the basis of an artisanal based export fishery which employs many in the industrial processing sector.
This project helped to develop the first fisheries co-management plan under the new Fisheries Act of 2007. The framework for the plan was developed through a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) pre-audit for the sole artisanal fishery. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Ba Nafaa project implemented by the University of Rhode Island (URI) in partnership with World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) West Africa Ecoregional Programme and the Government of The Gambia was able to support the development of this plan through workshops on co-management, directed trainings, collaborative research and institution building activities. Much of the new knowledge about sole was provided by the fishermen and the industry using local ecological knowledge (LEK) data gathering methods and confirmed through collaborative research techniques. This plan is adaptive and is expected to change as more data becomes available and with fluctuations of environmental and harvesting conditions.

Collaborative Management for a Sustainable Fisheries Future in Senegal (USAID/COMFISH)

The project ‘Collaborative Management for a Sustainable Fisheries Future in Senegal’ is a five-year initiative supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Senegal Mission, and is implemented by the University of Rhode Island with local government, NGO, University, civil society, and private sector partners and fisheries stakeholders. The goal is to promote sustainable fisheries co-management and support the Government of Senegal’s efforts to achieve reform of its fisheries sector as spelled out in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Policy Letter of 2008. Year 2 has just begun and the use of LEK will again play an important role in recommendations and policies that will help create sustainable fisheries for the future in Senegal.
Fishermen have a unique relationship with the ocean in which they fish. They spend the majority of their life in contact with the sea and the resources the oceans produce and have a deep understanding of the environment and the importance of taking care of it. Human pressure continues to have consequences on the health of the oceans – increased population needs lead to increased use of the living and non-living parts of the ocean. Fishermen have developed their own way of contributing to the future use of the ocean trying the balance the need to harvest with the need to conserve for the future. LEK provides ancient wisdom and innovative ideas that can be shared with others. A fisherman sharing these experiences with another is a powerful tool to transfer knowledge and cause shifts in thinking and acting. This will help promote a stewardship ethic and lead to more sustainable fishing. This will contribute greatly to the success of future management plans.

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