NARRAGANSETT—Senator Jack Reed met with local fishermen and researchers from the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) on Monday to discuss recent efforts of fisheries data collection at Point Judith.
Officials met aboard the Darana R, a 90 foot trawler which is owned and operated by the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP). The vessel is staffed by a team of researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and is conducting an extensive survey of the in-shore fisheries in Rhode Island and Block Island Sound.
“The Darana R is doing in-shore trawl surveys up and down the coast,” said Captain Rick Bellavance, President of the Rhode Island Charter and Party Boat Association (RICPBA). “This survey boat can pick up fish species that the National Marine Fisheries Survey (NMFS) vessel, the Henry B. Bigelow, and the state stock assessment boat, the Chafee in Wickford, cannot.”
The northern leg of the Darana R’s survey off of the Rhode Island coast is funded by a CFRF sub-award totaling $191,000 which covers the operation costs of the survey. The data collected by the trawler will be combined with local fishermen’s knowledge of the fisheries. This synthesis of information will help to better direct local fisheries’ management decisions.
“The Darana R survey began with the idea among fishermen that we can catch more fish than NOAA might say,” said Bellavance. “This vessel is run by a fisherman, Captain Jim Ruhle, who is typical of Point Judith fishermen and understands their viewpoint.”
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