The Chase Marina facility is located in what is commonly referred to as the Tiverton Basin close to the northern end of the Sakonnet River. The lower shores of the Sakonnet are largely residential and/or pastoral with the exception of the Basin which hosts both recreational and commercial craft. Sakonnet Harbor is at the southern end of the waterway also has a mix of recreational and commercial craft including a significant operation to support commercial fish trapping in the inshore areas.
Our vision as described below is to create a recreational angling center that can be used for education and outreach to the recreational angling public and partner with RIDEM Division of Marine Fisheries and local Universities. This location is uniquely positioned for that activity because of the adjacent boat launch ramp and public fishing pier already frequented by underserved and minority communities who fish for food from here. In addition, slips that would be used for berthing recreational charter boats would support many small businesses and help to increase recreational fishing activity in the East Bay region.
According to NOAA, recreational fishing accounts for $419 million in economic impact in Rhode Island and 3,773 jobs (without imports). Further, recreational fishing dovetails into the Rhode Island Marine Trades industry with its $2.649 billion in impact and 13,337 jobs. While recreational fishing enjoys a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with RIDEM – especially in Marine Fisheries—there are no berthing or office facilities to support recreational fishing in our State. This is in contrast to commercial fishing (a smaller industry) which has state-sponsored facilities support in the Port of Galilee, Pier 9 in Newport and the Commercial Fisheries Center at URI. We believe that our proposal will have broader social and economic benefit to the area while at the same time create fewer social and environmental conflicts.
Description of the Proposed Operation
We envision a Recreational Fisheries Center that would provide a focal point for recreational fishing activities serving as a catalyst, conduit and facilitator of habitat and fisheries research that supports recreational fishing, fish and fishing advocacy, public access to the water and fishing as well as an overarching mission of education. Our goal is to educate the public on the beauty and value of our waterways and to foster a lasting commitment to advocating for and preserving our marine habitat.
The facility would contain a mix of classroom/meeting/lecture space, “hands on” areas for demonstrations and skill-building, research space (likely in the rear segment) and office space for staff. The latter would be in the existing upstairs office space.
Our Vision and How it Relates to the RFI
We believe the vision set forth in the RFI for a commercial fishing facility is rather narrowly focused on a small number of commercial operators and presents some serious potential conflicts with the surrounding community, some members of which have already voiced concerns in the initial hearing stages. Our vision for a Recreational Fisheries Center (RFC) is focused on broad outreach to many constituencies such as:
- Shore, boat and kayak anglers—there are about 50,000 licensed saltwater anglers in RI
- Party boat and charter clients
- Students, teachers, researchers and others interested in our marine environment
- Citizens across a broad demographic spectrum of incomes, races and ethnic backgrounds wishing to partake in our fisheries
- Anyone wishing to learn more and participate in recreational fishing.
Range of Facility Uses
As noted in the introduction of this Recreational Fishing Center proposal, all or some of the Chase Marina space could be used depending on Rhode Island DEM Marine Fisheries input.
Programing possibilities for the entire space is desirable, however, RFI respondents are flexible in terms of the amount of space required pending DEM input and that of industry partners and universities. This would be refined in the Request for Proposal phase.
Opportunities exist to partner with Universities coordinating the fisheries research and learning center as well as possibly partnering with DEM and their Aquatic Resource Education department and/ or an East Bay satellite office for the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey program. Pending DEM input an RFP for the Recreational Fishing Center could include:
- A multi-use meeting/education/training room for the recreational fishing community
- Office space for administrative services, research and an education office
- A recreation fishing industry resource center for use by individuals and industry partners i.e. bait & tackle shops, marinas, etc.
- Expanded bathroom facilities, two toilets in each bathroom or whatever is required
- Space for a native fish aquarium and teaching center
- A pump out station for recreational and commercial fishing vessels
- Outdoor training areas to complement existing adjacent public fishing space for fishing training education, how to fish responsibly programs, etc.
- Space to administer and or run fishing education programs for youth (like fishing camp), adults, social environment justice programs, subsidence fishing education, etc.
Capital improvements to the facility depend upon programing components agreed upon (noted above) and would be refined during the RFP process.
Financing Capital Improvements
The Recreational Fishing Center respondent is agreeable to explore funding of capital improvements in consideration for lease fee credits if necessary.
We are uniquely positioned for funding due to the established Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Foundation (a 501(c)3 entity), our relationship with offshore wind developers, the relationship our members have with licensing and saltwater licensing funds, the respondent’s relationships with research scientists at Roger Williams University, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, university fisheries programs, the Costal Resource Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant as well as a host of environmental and marine non-governmental organizations.
Funding resources for the Recreational Fishing Center considered during the RFP process would include grants from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Foundation (RISAF), exploring possible use of State Fishing License funds with three to one Federal matches, fishing industry grants, offshore wind farm community funds and grants, facility grant and federal climate resilience funding for the Center’s research, outreach and education efforts as well as congressional grants.
As part of the planning process the recreational fishing Center would conduct a community and industry study to further identity partners, resource commitments, feasibility and support
Direct and Indirect Job Opportunities
The recreational fishing industry in Rhode Island has a $419-million annual sales economic impact and supports 3,963 jobs according to NOAA’s 2018 Fisheries Economics of the United States. Additionally, recreational fishing in Rhode Island is inextricably linked to the 13,337 jobs and $2.649 billion in Rhode Island Marine Trades Association impact on the State.
Both recreational fishing and commercial fishing are important to Rhode Island. NOAA notes Rhode Island’s seafood industry including commercial fishing creates $250-milion in sales impact annually and 3,773 in jobs (without imports).
The Recreational Fishing Center would not only support the 3,963 recreational jobs noted by NOAA but it would help bolster the number through education, training and research making citizens and visitors more aware of the great recreational fishing resource Rhode Island has. Arguably, some of the best recreational fishing in the northeast.
Employees of the Center would vary depending on agreed upon programing. Staffing may include an executive director, a research and education coordinator, as well as a fund development coordinator/administrative support person. Ten to twenty partially paid volunteers would conduct the training and education work of the Center on an as needed basis.
Benefits of the Center
Benefits are numerous and would include the following depending on approved programing at
- Economic recovery and resiliency would become one of the primary goals of the Center. The center plans to address issues such as disappearing bait & tackle shops and support industries; cultivation of captains, charter businesses and fishing guides; training of Master Anglers through a program that qualifies and certifies angler development with community service a key component of the program; recreational fishing is a key component to RI Tourism, the Center would work to grow the industry working with State Government and tourism associations to bolster fishing and tourism in Rhode Island.
- The Recreational Fishing Center at Chase Marina would respond to community needs to help facilitate responsible fishing by both shore and boat anglers. Located adjacent to a public fishing access point, the Center would be well positioned to conduct community outreach to Town and visiting fishers.
- Underserved communities. Through its fishing access program the Center aims to help address underserved community fishing at access points throughout Rhode Island, past initiatives of RISAF have included signage and patrols at public access points and RIDEM boat ramps, as well as angler education.
- Climate environmental justice as it relates to fishers would also be addressed by the Center as access points will be disappearing in Rhode Island as sea level rises due to climate impacts.
- The Center would take a leadership role on behalf of the recreational fishing community on such multi-uses of our Bays and the oceans by fishing, aquaculture as the industry grows in Rhode Island, and offshore wind farms, particularly as they interact with more anglers as cables are installed in Rhode Island waters.
- Research and education are major Center objectives. Cultivating research ideas; funding for research, and supplying fishers to participate in all types of citizen or community science is a major goal of the center. The Center would coordinate, facilitate and conduct some research with anglers from Rhode Island, much the way it is currently doing with DEM on the AnglerCatch project. The Center would partner withUniversities, research firms, DEM and other government/fisheries entities to coordinate its research efforts.
- The aim of the Center will be to foster recreational fishing growth in a science/research based way encouraging abundant fisheries so there are more fish in the water for all to catch, eat and/or release.
Nature of Partnerships or Regional Collaboration
As noted above the center would partner with State, regional and national fisheries management entities, NGO’s working in the area of habitat and fisheries, 30 of RISAA’s affiliates which include environmental groups, state/regional/national fishing associations of all types; Universities and for-profit researchers and firms working in the recreational fishing industry.
The Center’s mission is rooted in education and training, research, economic development, social environmental/economic justice and the support of culture of fishing community in Tiverton, the East Bay and the State. The Center aims to bolster local, state and regional efforts to address impacts of climate change on the industry i.e. fish stocks, habitat, access, social environmental justice and a host of other climate impacts.
Examples of such past collaborations include the AnglerCatch program with partners DEM and Harbor Light Software, fishing camp with partners DEM and the city of Warwick, recreational education that takes place with monthly seminars, the largest recreational fishing show in the northeast that takes place each year, the Southern New England Recreational Fishing Symposium that addresses major (and often times controversial) fishing issues, support of habitat and fisheries though fish ladders, boat ramps and research grants, support of the Baird Symposium on Climate Impacts on Recreational fishing and boating, as well as the annual Take a Kid fishing program that has partnered with hundreds of cities, towns and youth organizations to introduced thousands of Rhode Island youth to fishing teaching them how to fish for fun responsibly setting the table for them to become good stewards of the environment.