The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation is a non-profit, private research foundation founded and directed by members of the commercial fishing industry. The CFRF’s primary mission is to conduct collaborative research and education projects that assist in the achievement of sustainable fisheries and vibrant fishing communities.




This time of year inspires gratitude and reflection and the CFRF feels fortunate to have a diverse network of          collaborators that helps us achieve our mission of supporting sustainable fisheries in New England. Since 2003, the CFRF has worked with over 135 fishermen from Maine to New Jersey as well as hundreds of fisheries scientists, managers, and culinary professionals that have helped make the CFRF’s work truly impactful. In total, the CFRF has distributed over $1.5 million of compensation directly to fishermen for their participation, platforms, and invaluable input. These efforts have resulted in new tools to reduce bycatch, better data for stock assessments, and a growing sense of trust and cooperation among fisheries stakeholders.  Conducting research and education that benefits that fishing industry is at the heart of CFRF’s mission, and we are very proud of our accomplishments to date.

In an effort to continue and expand our work, the CFRF is requesting your support during this giving season. No gift is too small and all donations are tax deductible. Please consider including CFRF in your annual giving so that we can continue to bring fishermen, scientists, managers, and culinary professionals together to address challenges and open new opportunities for our region’s commercial fisheries.

You can donate to CFRF online (, via mail, or in person. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy a cornucopia of local seafood this Holiday season!

Fred Mattera, CFRF President, North East Safety Training Company


Project UPDATE:  Assessing the Economic Impact of Rhode Island’s Fishing Industry

Since early 2017, the CFRF has been working with Dr. Tom Sproul at the University of Rhode Island to develop an inventory of fishing-related businesses in Rhode Island and to estimate their aggregate contribution to the state’s economy. Dr. Sproul’s previous work has revealed gross underestimation of the value of Rhode Island’s other natural resource sectors,     including agriculture and landscaping. This project seeks to collect and analyze the data needed to inform decision makers about the contribution of the fishing industry to the state’s economy, work force, and food system, as well as identify areas for future growth. Dr. Sproul met with members of the fishing industry on November 14th to discuss the project, the importance of their participation, the confidentiality of their business’s data, and the expected outcomes and applications. To learn more, please visit the project website at

RI FISHING BUSINESS OWNERS: Please fill out the 5-minute survey at to ensure that your business is included in the inventory and that the study’s economic estimations are accurate.  Surveys are due by December 31st.


Project Update:  Black Sea Bass Research Fleet

The Black Sea Bass Research Fleet steadily increased sampling throughout the summer and fall as black sea bass moved inshore and became readily accessible to Rhode Island fishermen. To date, the Research Fleet has sampled just shy of 7,000 black sea bass from a variety of gear types, including conch pots and oyster farm boxes! Research Fleet members fishing in Rhode Island state waters have also collected over 900 black sea bass for laboratory analysis of sexual maturity, diet, and age by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. Together, all of these data will be used to better understand black sea bass population and fishery dynamics in Southern New England, an essential step towards realizing the full capacity and economic benefit of this fishery. The CFRF will hold a Black Sea Bass Research Fleet meeting on December 13th to discuss the data collected to date, gather feedback from fishermen participating in the fleet, and review the functionality of the sampling technology deployed. This project is currently slated to end in March 2018, but the CFRF has been avidly seeking continued support for this important work. More information about the project can be found at


Project UPDATE:  Elevating Sustainable Seafood in the Ocean State

This project seeks to increase access to and appreciation of local seafood in Rhode Island by fostering relationships between local seafood producers and food businesses, identifying and addressing regulatory hurdles in seafood direct sale, launching an open-access catalogue of RI seafood species and seafood access points, and providing direct seafood-sourcing training to food professionals. As a first step, the CFRF has been working with RI DEM to develop as a one-stop-shop for information about what  seafood is harvested in RI and where consumers and food businesses can access it. The new website will be launched in spring 2018, so stay tuned! In the interim, follow CFRF’s Facebook page for weekly highlights of local seafood species.

The CFRF is thrilled to be working with local seafood champion Chef Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway to host a Seafood Sourcing  Workshop in March 2018. The workshop will include an introduction to the RI fishing industry, a review of RI seafood species diversity and seasonality, a crash course in seafood sustainability, a guide on how to access local seafood that meets the needs of different food businesses, a review of the economics of incorporating local seafood onto  menus and marketing  it to consumers, hands-on cooking demonstrations, and networking among food professionals and seafood producers. In preparation for this workshop, the CFRF has been working with the RI Department of Health and a number of individual food   businesses to identify regulatory impediments to sourcing local seafood, and to develop supply chain solutions. The CFRF has also been busy educating the masses about local and sustainable seafood, including the RI Environmental Health Association, “Human Use and the Environment” class at URI, “Sustainability in the Culinary Kitchen” class at Johnson and Wales University, food  professionals at the Chef’s Collaborative Summit, and    consumers at the Boston Public Market. The CFRF will also be participating in the URI FoodX conference in January – we hope to see you there! (


Project Update:  Quahog Research Fleet

The Quahog Research Fleet has been busy sampling throughout the summer and fall months, having completed nearly 500 transects and sampled over 25,000 quahogs from across Narragansett Bay. Part of these sampling efforts were focused on investigating the quahog population within the Providence River closed area, which is being considered for opening due to improved water quality. In October, participant shellfishermen used the protocols and technology of the Quahog Research Fleet to sample quahogs alongside the RI DEM dredge in a variety of  locations in the Providence River. The data collected by the Research Fleet will allow  RI DEM and the CFRF to explore the complex relationships between quahog density, size structure, environmental conditions (such as depth and bottom type), and fishing techniques, which are essential to effectively managing this historic fishery.

Marking another major step forward, the project team began calibrating the catch efficiency of each    shellfishermen participating in the Quahog Research Fleet as well as the RI DEM hydraulic dredge. During the calibrations, project partner Dale Leavitt (Roger Williams University) and a team of scientific SCUBA divers monitored the catch rates of each bullraker by collecting and counting all quahogs missed within a bullrake transect. The same procedure was replicated alongside the RI DEM dredge. These calibrations are vital to the project, as they allow for the two datasets (RI DEM dredge and Quahog Research Fleet) to be standardized and comparable for ultimate application to the quahog stock assessment. The Quahog Research Fleet data will be an important supplement the RI DEM dredge data, as it provides a first-ever characterization of the seasonal dynamics of the quahog fishery and population in Narragansett Bay.  More information about this  project can be found at


Project Update:  Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet

Since 2013, the Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet has collected biological data from more than 104,000 lobsters and 44,000 Jonah Crabs, helping to fill major data gaps in areas not sampled by traditional surveys. The Research Fleet has also collected over 2,300 Jonah crabs for sexual maturity analysis at the Massachusetts Division at Marine Fisheries. Currently, there are 17 fishing vessels participating in the CFRF’s Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet, from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. This summer, the CFRF welcomed two additional vessels to the Research Fleet: F/V Virginia Marie (Sandwich, MA) and F/V Freedom (Newport, RI). These two vessels will provide lobster and Jonah crab data from within the      Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument, a data poor yet economically important area. In addition to expanding the   spatial coverage of the Research Fleet, the CFRF has been working to evolve the technology that fishermen use to collect data and will be  piloting new Bluetooth calipers in spring 2018. For more information visit

This winter, the CFRF is excited to be sharing  the results of this project at the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association Annual Weekend (January 18th-21st), the Maine Fishermen’s Forum (March 1st-3rd), and the National Shellfisheries Association Meeting (March 18th-22nd). We hope to see you there!


Project Update:  Shelf Research Fleet

Since 2014, the CFRF has worked with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to engage fishermen in the collection of oceanographic data from across the continental shelf south of Rhode Island. The Shelf Research Fleet collaboration has been highlighted by a variety of media outlets, including a recent episode of All Things Considered by WBUR in Boston. The water column profiles collected by the fishermen participating in the Shelf Research Fleet     revealed a variety of unusual oceanographic events in 2017, including anomalously warm waters on the continental shelf in January as well as a delayed onset to spring warming. On November 2nd, CFRF staff and WHOI scientist Dr. Glen Gawarkiewicz presented these findings and      discussed related trends in fisheries resources with a group of fishermen in Point Judith, RI. Thank you to those who attended for an enlightening and lively conversation! To view the       materials from this meeting and to learn more about the Shelf Research Fleet, please visit

ATTENTION FISHERMEN: The CFRF is currently seeking vessels that fish between 40 and 70   fathoms south of Rhode Island to participate in the Shelf Research Fleet. If you are interested please contact Aubrey at: or 401-515-4892.



Offshore wind energy presents an opportunity to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but it is unclear how these activities will impact the sustainability of the nation’s valuable fisheries resources, including American lobster and Jonah crab. Thus, the CFRF is working with Dr. Jeremy Collie at the University of Rhode Island to collect the baseline data needed to assess the local impacts of offshore wind energy development on the lobster and Jonah crab populations in Rhode Island Sound. The primary components of this project are ventless trap surveys, habitat      characterizations, and lobster tagging, which will occur from May to November 2018. The findings from this work will be shared directly with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, who is responsible for minimizing impacts of offshore energy projects on the ocean’s complex ecosystems. To learn more, please visit the project website at

CFRF Upcoming Events & Meetings

January 18, 2018
RI FOODX Summit 2018 at URI

January 18-21, 2018  
MA Lobstermen’s Association Annual Meetingin Hyannis, MA

March 1-3, 2018  
Maine Fishermen’s Forum
in Rockland, ME

March 6, 2018
CFRF Seafood Sourcing Workshop

March 18-22, 2018  
National Shellfisheries Association Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA


December 4, 2017              
CFRF Lobster and Jonah Crab Fleet Meeting

December 5-7, 2017
NEFMC Meeting in Newport, RI

December 6, 2017              
Baird Sea Grant Science Symposium: “Changes in Narragansett Bay: A Conversation among citizens and scientists” at URI GSO Bay Campus

December 11-12, 2017
Southern New England Offshore Wind energy Science Forum at URI GSO Bay Campus

December 13, 2017            
CFRF Black Sea Bass Research Fleet Meeting

January 10, 2018    
AFS SNEC Chapter Winter
Meeting at SMAST in New Bedford, MA

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CFRF Priorities – Research & education:

  • Industry-based biological data collection (research fleets)
  • Commercial fisheries dynamics in SNE
  • Habitat and trophic dynamics
  • Ecological impacts of offshore wind energy
  • Alternative uses for seafood processing waste
  • Local seafood access and utilization
  • Sustainable seafood education

Your support makes it possible for the CFRF to develop new initiatives that sustain healthy fisheries resources and vibrant fishing communities.  If you are interested in supporting collaborative research and sustainable seafood, please consider making a donation to the CFRF at!


We encourage members of the fishing industry to reach out with research ideas and priorities!

To download the November 2017 edition of the newsletter, click button below.