NARRAGANSETT—Commercial fishing is arguably the most important economy driver in Rhode Island. Point Judith is the third largest fishing community in New England based on total catch values. It is clear, however, that fishermen are struggling in the most recent economic downturn.
“What is unique about Rhode Island is that every county is a coastal community,” said John Scotti, Senior Fisheries Specialist at Cornell. “No other state is like that. Every county in Rhode Island is affected by the commercial fishing industry.”
The Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program (CCEMP) has created a research team which will analyze social, economic, and environmental data in order to develop a workable methodology for the future. The project, titled ‘The Rhode Island Commercial Fishing Industry – Development of a Profile,’ will hopefully better inform officials involved during the planning and implementation stages of developing the commercial fishing industry.
“We will describe the economic impacts of the commercial fishing industry in Rhode Island and examine groups like processors and retailers,” said Scotti.
CCEMP’s ‘Project Steering Committee’ will direct the execution of the project. Anonymous surveys will be sent out throughout the state asking commercial fishermen such questions as where they principally fish, what king of equipment they use, and whether they are fully licensed to fish. Socioeconomic questions are also posed, such as what percentage of a fisherman’s income comes from commercial fishing and whether he/she has health insurance. The survey also inquires about education level.
“Our job is to gather info, not do new research,” said Scotti. “Every thing that is known is out there. We need to find out what information exists in each category and develop a methodology.”
For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.