The Senate Task Force on Fisheries, led by Rhode Island senator Susan V. Sosnowski, met Wednesday evening to discuss the issues concerning the creation of local seafood markets.
One might think that seafood is a significant staple of the Rhode Island economy, yet no current infrastructure exists for the marketing of local seafood products. A varied group of speakers from fishermen to local businessmen to scientists detailed their approaches and concerns about creating sustainable, local seafood markets.
“We have to be comprehensive in our approach,” said Kenneth Ayers of the RI Department of Environmental Management.
The plans laid out by the speakers addressed three issues which are crucial to the success of local seafood markets; understanding the production and limitations of local fisheries, developing concrete frameworks which support local seafood markets long term, and educating the public about the benefits of buying and eating Rhode Island seafood.
Local fishermen and businesses must first understand the availability of marketable seafood species. High value fisheries, such as those for Monk Fish and Blue Crab, are rebuilding or have been rebuilt in recent years. Climate changes and the presence of ‘choke’ species, however, affect local habitats and the abundance of seafood product. The knowledge of what local businesses can buy on a daily basis must be clear and accurate.
“We want to keep fishermen ahead of the curb,” said Mark Gibson, a fisheries scientist for the DEM, “to position ourselves to be best prepared down the road.”
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