A multi-institutional executive committee comprised of Rhode Island state, university, industry, and other aquaculture leaders was formulated to determine priorities for projects to be funded with the $1.5 million that Senator Jack Reed obtained for aquaculture development in Rhode Island. Funds are routed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research to the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and managed by David Alves, Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) state aquaculture initiative coordinator, assisted by Barry A. Costa-Pierce, Rhode Island Sea Grant director, and Ames Colt, Rhode Island Sea Grant assistant director. Rhode Island Sea Grant reports to the NOAA-Sea Grant Project Manager, Jim McVey, in Washington, D.C. CRMC has signed a memorandum of understanding with Rhode Island Sea Grant, the University of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University to manage this project.

Grants Awarded

The Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative has awarded $600,000 toward aquaculture research and development in the state through a series of multi-year research grants and one-year "mini-grants."

Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative Multi-Year Research Grants:

  • Peter August, URI natural resources science professor, received $149,983 over three years to enhance the Rhode Island Aquaculture and Fisheries Web page and Internet map server with up-to-date physical, chemical, and biological spatial data.
  • Bradford Bourque, of Roger Williams University, Harold Pomeroy, Roger Williams University biology professor, and Something Fishy, Inc. received $125,438 over three years to develop economically and environmentally sustainable land-based culture techniques for at least three species of marine ornamentals.
  • Graham Forrester, URI biological sciences associate professor, and Robert Rheault, Spatco, Ltd. President, received $100,028 over two years to evaluate the effects of aquaculture facilities on natural habitats and to describe the habitat values of shellfish aquaculture gear.
  • Marta Gomez-Chiarri, URI fisheries, animal, and veterinary science assistant professor, Roxanna Smolowitz, Marine Biological Laboratory researcher, and Tim Scott Roger Williams University Center for Economic and Environmental Development director, received $49,136 over three years to evaluate the presence of a parasite found in wild and farmed northern quahogs in Rhode Island and the potential effect of the disease on Rhode Island's quahog industry.
  • Perry Raso, shellfish aquaculturist, and Alicia Thayer, South Kingstown High School teacher, received $82,405 over three years to educate over 1,700 students from Grade 6 through college about shellfish aquaculture and to promote community acceptance of aquaculture. In addition, students will be involved in a cutting-edge model aquaculture facility.
  • Tim Scott, Roger Williams University center for Economic and Environmental Development director, received $100,000 over three years to determine whether producing young seed clams in a hatchery and replanting them on public grounds will result in a greater harvest of adult clams in the future or will inadvertently attract predators to a productive bed.

Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative Mini-Grants:

  • Aquaculture Products of Charlestown received $275 to test methods for reducing starfish predation in oyster culture.
  • Russell Blank and William Blank of North Kingstown received $3,000 for the purchase of materials and seed to grow bay scallops and soft-shell clams.
  • Louis Ricciarelli, Jr. of West Kingston received $3,000 to grow bay scallops to harvestable size in Narragansett Bay, using varying types of cages to determine the best method for grow-out.
  • Salt Water Farms, LLC of Wakefield received $3,000 to purchase processing machinery intended to reduce operating costs and accelerate the growth rates of cultured oysters and mussels.
  • Spatco, Ltd., of Wakefield, received $2,000 to purchase and test in-water aeration equipment that will substantially reduce ambient noise levels.
  • Kenneth Thompson of North Providence received $2,000 to grow surf clams, which have not previously been cultivated in Rhode Island.
  • Christopher Warfel of New Shoreham received $1,700 to develop a hybrid wind and solar powered upweller to enable shellfish aquaculturists to site culture operations in remote waters.

Updated aquaculture, fisheries, and habitat map server now available

One of the first projects funded by the Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative was to enhance an ongoing mapping project that grew out of the CRMC Working Group on Fisheries and Aquaculture Regulations. The map server is a product of this initiative.

New publication

The booklet Rhode Island Aquaculture Initiative: A Shared Vision for the Future describes aquaculture in Rhode Island, as well as the initiative and its vision, investments, and accomplishments. Click here to download a PDF copy (1.07M), or contact David Alves for a hard copy.

Executive Committee

David Alves, Chair
CRMC Aquaculture Coordinator

David A.Bengtson
University of Rhode Island

David L. Beutel
University of Rhode Island

Ames B. Colt
Rhode Island Sea Grant

Barry A. Costa-Pierce
Rhode Island Sea Grant

David F. Leavitt
Roger Williams University

Michael McGiveney
Rhode Island Shellfishermans' Association

Edwin W. Rhodes
East Coast Shellfish Growers Association

Michael A. Rice
University of Rhode Island

Robert Rheault
Ocean State Aquaculture Association

Timothy M. Scott
Roger Williams University

Bill Silkes
Ocean State Aquaculture Association

David Alves, CRMC Aquaculture Coordinator, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council
Stedman Government Center, 4808 Tower Hill Rd., Wakefield, RI 02879
401-783-3370 (Voice)   •   401-783-3767 (Fax)