Preserve and support commercial fisheries


The fisheries and commercial seafood sector, which includes commercial fishing and shellfishing as well as wholesale seafood dealers and other related businesses, is a critically important part of Rhode Island’s economy. . These 428 firms generated 3,147 jobs and $538.33 million of gross sales in 2016. Including spillover effects across all sectors of the Rhode Island economy, the total economic impact was 4,381 jobs and output of $419.83 million.

Special care must be taken to protect and preserve this industry to ensure it continues to contribute to the culture and vitality of our state.. This sector faces unique challenges. They include complex regulatory strains and fragmentation, climate variability and warming waters that lead to habitat degradation, rising business expenses including the cost of gear, availability of permits and allocations, an aging fleet of boats and fishermen and women, uncertain markets, and a lack of understanding by the general public. In addition, fewer and fewer young people are aspiring to careers in fishing, so it is difficult for captains to find qualified crew.

Despite these challenges, Rhode Island has many opportunities to enhance and grow this critical sector of the state’s economy. Demand for local food, including local seafood, is high and rising. There is a new, post-COVID realization that depending more heavily on locally produced and harvested food is an important aspect of food security in the face of crisis. Our fleet is extremely unique in its diversity of its catches, including emerging species that appreciate the warmer waters. We also have a state seafood branding campaign that has been gaining traction in recent years. Encouraging more local seafood consumption is a vital part of ensuring a healthy sector..

Solving the issues fisheries are facing is a unique task. We have an opportunity to maximize the benefits of this important part of the Rhode Island economy by enhancing public understanding, increasing coordination among members of the industry and across industry, government, and nonprofit sectors, and workforce development to recruit, train, and support the next generation of RI fishermen.


  • Enhance youth and public understanding of local wild-caught seafood through publicly support marketing initiatives
  • Invest in training the next generation of RI fishermen and women
  • Protect access to public infrastructure for fishing activities
  • Invest in shared use seafood wastewater processing facilities
  • Reduce water contamination from agricultural and industrial runoff
  • Support fisheries science and management at URI and other state institutions

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