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  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project

    Environmental Change, Vulnerability,

    Adaptation, & Resilience

    A Summary Report of 48 Semi-Structured Interviews with Rhode Island Commercial Fishery Stakeholders

    September 2015 – September 2016

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    Resilient Fisheries RI The Resilient Fisheries RI project is a two-year collaborative learning exercise coordinated by, with, and for Rhode Island’s fishing industry to address uncertainty about the future and design strategies to keep Rhode Island fisheries thriving for the next generation. Project Coordinator Sarah Schumann Project Oversight Team Jeff Grant Rodman Sykes Alan Glidden Denny Ingram Greg Mataronas Katie Eagan Norbert Stamps Katie Almeida Tom Lafazia Mike Marchetti Ken Booth Fiscal Sponsor Rhode Island Natural History Survey Contact (401)297-6273 resilientfisheriesRI@gmail.com www.resilientfisheriesRI.org Schumann, S. 2016. "Environmental Change, Vulnerability, Adaptation, & Resilience: A Summary Report of 48 Semi-Structured Interviews with Rhode Island Commercial Fishery Stakeholders." South Kingstown, R.I. Online at: www.resilientfisheriesRI.org The Resilient Fisheries RI project is supported by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Saltonstall-Kennedy grant (NOAA-NMFS-FHQ-2015- 2004246). Any opinions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies and organizations that provided support for the project.

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project





    RESULTS 10

    1. Observations of a changing environment 10

    2. Impacts of environmental change on fisheries 14 Concern about future impacts 16

    3. Seeing observations through the lens of global climate change 17

    4. Survey results: Attitudes towards global climate change 20

    5. Environmental changes of particular concern 22 The black sea bass explosion 23 Nuisance seaweed outbreaks 26 Water chemistry and changes in Narragansett Bay 28

    6. Drivers and signs of vulnerability in Rhode Island fisheries 31 Shrinking of the fleet 32 Aging of the fleet 32 Loss of shore-side services 33 Consolidation 34 Rise in business expenses 35 Changes in markets 36 Lack of appreciation and support for the fishing industry 37 Shortened business planning horizon 37 Forced specialization 37 Lack of participation by young fishermen 39

    7. Survey results: Drivers of vulnerability 41

    8. Identifying pathways to resilience 45 Good relationship with management 46 Flexibility and diversity 46 Innovation 47 Ethic of open-mindedness 48 Markets 48

    9. The fisheries management context 48 General lack of faith in science and management 49 Regulatory discards 49 Need for more nimble science that responds to variability 49 Need for EBFM 50 Problems with history-based state allocations 50

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    Jurisdiction and representation 51

    10. Past and present adaptive actions 51 Shift from groundfish to squid 51 Coping with challenges in the lobster fishery 52 Following the fish 53 Taking fluke to North Carolina 54 Harvesting Southern species locally 54 Diversifying portfolios 55 Innovative marketing 56 Other 56


  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    Introduction In September 2015, a group of Rhode Island fishing industry participants received a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to work with other members of their industry to carry out a proactive planning process focused on current and anticipated effects of climate and other environmental changes on local fisheries. Phase I of the project lasted from September 2015-September 2016. Its purpose was to galvanize a broad and reflective thought process among Rhode Island’s fishing community about the ways in which it is, and will continue to be, affected by environmental change, and to encourage thinking about how the industry can better prepare for these changes. Phase I was also designed to collect information about:

    • fishermen’s observations of environmental and ecological change, • attitudes towards ocean acidification and global climate change, • relative importance of different drivers of vulnerability affecting Rhode

    Island’s fisheries, • past and present adaptive actions that could provide lessons for the

    future, and • policy options to promote greater adaptive capacity in Rhode Island’s

    fishing fleet.

    Methods Sarah Schumann, the Project Coordinator, conducted 48 semi-structured interviews between January 2016 and September 2016. Interviews lasted from thirty minutes to two and a half hours. Interviews consisted of a series of open- ended questions and a 26-question Likert-scale survey, which was deployed at the end of the interview. Interviews were recorded on a digital recorder and transcribed. Respondents were recruited through a combination of:

    • Recommendation by the project’s industry advisory team • Snowball sampling • Intercept sampling

    Interviewees by port

    Point Judith 34 Snug Harbor 1 West Bay 2 Newport 7

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    East Bay 1 Sakonnet Point 2 Trailered vessel 1

    Interviewees grouped by vessel and gear type Inshore and mid-shore lobster/crab1 14 Offshore lobster/crab 3 Gillnet 4 Day boat dragger 5 Trip boat dragger 9 Floating fish trap 1 Shellfish 2 Conch 1 Sea scallop 2 Rod and reel 5 Dealer 1 Shore-side support 3 Inshore mixed fisheries 2 Retired 3

    Primary target species listed by participants Lobster 6 Jonah crab 4 Striped bass 4 Black sea bass 3 Tautog 2 Bluefish 2 Squeteague 1 Squid 12 Fluke 9 Scup 7 Butterfish 2 Whiting 3 Menhaden 1 Bonito 1 Monkfish 3 Groundfish 2 Skate 1

    1 Inshore lobster boats range from 14’ to 45’ and return to port each day. Offshore boats range from 45’ to 90’ and spend several days fishing on the continental shelf.

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    Conch 1 Quahog 2 Sea scallops 3 Mixed inshore finfish and shellfish 3 Interviews were semi-structured and designed to adapt to each participant’s thought process. The following is a summary of interview questions. Semi-structured interview questions Environmental changes

    • Fishermen: In your day-to-day fishing activities, are you seeing anything different out there?

    • Shore-side: Are you experiencing, or are you affected by, any changes or trends in the marine environment?

    • For each change, o When did you notice things were different? o How has this change affected you? o How do you think it is affecting other people in the industry? o Is the change beneficial or harmful? o If change is negative,

    § What actions are people taking to adapt this this change? § What things are standing in the way of effectively adapting

    to this change? § What do you think will happen if people can’t adapt to this

    change? o If change is positive,

    § What actions have you or others taken to benefit from this change?

    § Are there things preventing people from taking advantage of this change?

    o Do you feel that you know everything you need to know about this change?

    o What aspects of this change would you like to understand better? o Has talking with other members of the fishing industry helped you

    better understand this change? o Has talking with members of the scientific community helped you

    understand this change? Policies and governance

    • Are there certain policies in place right now that are preventing businesses from adapting to these changes?

    • Are there certain policies in place right now that are helping people adapt to these changes?

  • Phase I of the Resilient Fisheries RI Project


    • Are there certain actions that you think policy makers should take to further facilitate adaptation to these changes?

    Predictability and planning • Do you think that in general, the abundance, behavior, and distribution of

    fishery resources are becoming less predictable, more predictable, or the same, compared to before?

    • Do you think that business planning in general is becoming more difficult, easier, or the same, than before?

    Vulnerability and resilience • What things could be considered drives of vulnerability in Rhode Island’s

    fishing industry? • Are there examples of times in the past when something happened to

    completely change your livelihood? How did you adapt? Can you envision something like that happening in the future?

    • How would you define “resilience” in the fishing industry? • What characteristics make a boat or business resilient to change? • What characteristics make a boat or business vulnerable to change? • Do you think your boat or business is resilient or vulnerable? In what way? • What characteristics make a port resilient or vulnerable to change? • Do you think your port is resilient or vulner