100,000 Lobsters Sampled!

As of today, September 5th, the CFRF's Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet has sampled over 100,000 lobsters since June 2013. This is an important milestone!!

2017 marks an important year for the CFRF's Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet: 4 years of data collection!

Huge thank you to all of our fleet participants for their hard work and dedication!

For more information about CFRF's Lobster and Jonah Crab Research Fleet please visit our project page: http://www.cfrfoundation.org/jonah-crab-lobster-research-fleet/


Please Join the CFRF to "Taste the Ocean State" on August 12th!

On Saturday, August 12th, the CFRF will host "Taste the Ocean State: Celebrate RI Seafood" at the The KITCHEN at The Boston Public Market. Please read on to learn more about the event and how you can participate!

Event Information:

Summer in New England calls for seafood! But with over 100 different species harvested throughout the year, it can be difficult to choose your next meal. Join the CFRF for an afternoon getting to know the seafood that is harvested locally, meeting the fishermen who bring it to your plate, learning the ropes of preparing summer seafood dishes, and taste the results for yourself! This event includes:

  • Lessons in local seafood diversity, availability, and sustainability
  • Stories and videos from local fishermen
  • Seafood cooking demonstrations with Chef Maureen Pothier and Chef Matt Britt from Johnson and Wales University
  • Tasting of seafood dishes prepared by Chefs Pothier and Britt
  • Coupons to Red’s Best for purchasing seafood after the event
  • Seafood recipes and information to take home
  • Lessons in the science of seafood sustainability from the CFRF

When: Saturday, August 12th, 1-3PM

Where: The KITCHEN, at the Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02108

Tickets: This event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP here!

More Information: CFRF’s RI seafood webpage or Eventbrite .

Event Partners: Johnson & Wales University, The Trustees, RI Local Food Bazaar, Red's Best, Eating with the Ecosystem

We hope to see you there!


Squid Research Discussion Summary

                On July 12th, the CFRF hosted a meeting in which Dr. David Richardson and Dr. John Manderson from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) presented, to a room full of fishing industry members and fisheries scientists, the most recent research findings and further questions being investigated about the squid resources along the East coast.

                Dr. Richardson presented recent findings made while analyzing past NEFSC offshore plankton trawl survey data. The offshore NEFSC plankton trawl began in the 1970s and has sampled 6 times every year since. While analyzing the larval squid samples, the diversity off the East coast was startling, with up to 25 different squid species being found. Longfin squid accounted for the greatest abundance within the larval samples (85-90%). Relying on larval surveys and aging databases, Dr. Richardson has begun to determine where the squid found in the Northeast could be originating from. As squid are a short-lived species, typically living only 6-9 months, the location of squid larvae throughout the year indicate where and when adult squid are spawning. Dr. Richardson has found that squid larvae are nearly absent from the Northeast shelf during winter months, suggesting that the squid that support the summer fishery originate elsewhere. The most probable point of origination/spawning is the Southeast shelf, where larval squid are abundant during winter months. Squid spawned in the Southeast during the winter could be transported northward via the Gulf Stream to recruit into the Northeast squid fishery during the spring and summer. During the summer months, larval squid are abundant across the Northeast continental shelf. It is believed that these squid remain in the Northeast and recruit into the fishery in the fall and winter.  

                Dr. Manderson presented a summary of his research surrounding methods for monitoring and managing fisheries utilizing real-time oceanographic technology and catch monitoring systems. With the system applied in the squid fishery, Manderson is able to monitor how the squid fishery and landings respond to changing oceanographic conditions. Ultimately, this type of automatic analysis system could be utilized by individual fishermen to target locations based on ideal oceanographic conditions. One specific example that Dr. Manderson provided was to target specific temperatures and salinities to maximize target species abundance and minimize bycatch. On a larger scale, this approach could be applied to monitor how the oceanographic conditions are evolving over a region throughout each season to begin to predict the potential appropriate harvest levels based on those conditions.


For a full audio recording of the presentation contact Thomas Heimann, CFRF Research Associate, at theimann@cfrfoundation.org or 401-515-4892.

Squid Research Discussion, July 12th 1PM

Please join the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation at 1PM on Wednesday, July 12th for a discussion about the past, present, and future of squid along the East Coast. Dr. David Richardson and Dr. John Manderson from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center will present recent research on squid population dynamics, with an open discussion session to follow. This event is for members of the fishing industry only and will be held at the Commercial Fisheries Center, East Farm Campus, URI, Building 61B, Kingston, RI.

As a teaser, below is a map of Longfin Squid distribution in the 1970s (blue area) and 2010s (red area). We will talk about what this means for the squid population and fishery now and for the years to come.

We hope you can join us!  Please RSVP to Teresa Winneg at twinneg@cfrfoundation.org or 401-515-4890.




The CFRF and URI are seeking three commercial lobster F/Vs to participate in the Southern New England Cooperative Ventless Trap Survey (SNECVTS) in the Cox’s Ledge Wind Energy Area from May to November 2017. This project is a continuation of the SNECVTS survey conducted in 2014/2015, and aims to assess the seasonal distribution, movement, and habitat use of the American lobster and Jonah crab in the Cox’s Ledge area.

Each F/V participant will charter 2 biologists for 3 days per month from May - November 2017. All sampling days within a month will be five days apart to achieve a standardized soak time.

Compensation includes $2300 per sampling day (21 days total), $1800 for completion of full sampling season, $1000 for project set up, $1000 for project break down, and reimbursement of additional insurance costs.

Please see application HERE and project briefing document HERE for more information about the participant requirements and scope of work. Or visit the project website HERE.

Applications are due to the CFRF via mail, email, or fax by Wednesday, April 26th.

ATTENTION: Rhode Island Fishing Business Owners


The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation is working with Dr. Thomas Sproul at the University of Rhode Island to assess the economic impact of the fishing industry in the state of Rhode Island. This work is expected to shed light on the importance of the fishing community to Rhode Island’s economy, work force, and food system. It is essential that all RI fishing businesses participate in this survey, so that the economic assessment is accurate!

Please take 10 minutes to fill out the survey at https://riepr.org/s/fisheriesYou will need your business’ gross revenue and employment records for the last three years to complete the survey. Your survey response will be 100% confidential and your data will not be shared with any third party or government agency. After the survey is completed, members of the fishing industry will be able to access aggregate data summaries tailored to their interests. 

To read more about the specifics of the project visit the project webpage.  Please contact Anna Malek Mercer at amalek@cfrfoundation.org or 401-515-4662 for questions or assistance.

Thank you for your participation!

CFRF January 2017 Newsletter Now Available!

If you are interested in learning more about all the current projects CFRF has underway, including recent milestones, and all the happenings within the foundation, download a copy of our January 2017 newsletter.  In it we cover all project progress since our last newsletter and highlight new projects which have recently begun.

Download the January 2017 newsletter here.

To view and download all our past newsletters visit this link.


CFRF Begins New Fisheries Economic Impact Project

The CFRF in collaboration with University of Rhode Island Professor Tom Sprouls have begun a new project which seeks to assess the economic impact of fisheries within the state of Rhode Island. The project goal is to determine the total direct and indirect impact of fisheries within the state as well as identify opportunities for growth within the fishing industry.

To read more about the specifics of the project visit the project webpage.

CFRF Hosts First Black Sea Bass Fleet Training Session

On the evening of November 29th, CFRF was proud to host the members of our Black Sea Bass Research Fleet for the first project training session.

During the meeting, fleet members were formally introduced to project sampling protocols and equipment. Further, the Black Sea Bass Version of On Deck Data was unveiled and fleet members were familiarized.

The training session was immensely insightful as fleet members offered gear-type specific suggestions to help improve the Black Sea Bass Application to best fit their fishing. Input such as this has proved to be essential when working with representative from 6 different gear types!

For more information about the project visit the project webpage.

CFRF Welcomes the Black Sea Bass Research Fleet

The CFRF in partnership with RI DEM, is launching a black sea bass research fleet with members of the RI fishing industry. The project involves fishermen collecting biological and effort data on black sea bass during routine fishing practices.

We would like to proudly welcome Todd Sutton, Kenneth Murgo, Tim Baker, Harry 'Trip' Whilden, Philip Merris, Mike Monteforte, Aaron Gewirtz, and Rick Bellavance to the black sea bass research fleet!

To read more about the project CLICK HERE

Call for Applications: CFRF Black Sea Bass Research Fleet

The CFRF, in partnership with RI DEM, is launching a Black Sea Bass Research Fleet in the Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic Bight region. The project will employ Rhode Island commercial and recreational fishermen, utilizing a variety of gear types, to collect biological and fishery data on black sea bass throughout the year. Data will be collected and transmitted using a specifically designed black sea bass sampling app on Android tablets. Research Fleet participants will sample black sea bass within their typical fishing grounds throughout the year. For more information about the project CLICK HERE.

CFRF is currently soliciting fishermen to participate in the Black Sea Bass Research Fleet. Applicants must hail out of Rhode Island and regularly interact with black sea bass throughout the fishing year (either as targeted catch or bycatch). Eight fishermen will be selected to participate in the Research Fleet, based upon areas and times of year fished, frequency of interaction with black sea bass, experience with cooperative research, and gear type. For more information about participant responsibilities and sampling protocols CLICK HERE.

If you would like to apply to participate in the Black Sea Bass Research Fleet, please fill out the application and submit to CFRF either via email, fax or mail to CFRF. To download the vessel application, CLICK HERE.

The deadline for applications is Friday, September 23, 2016.



CFRF BLACK SEA BASS RESEARCH FLEET:  On September 1st., the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF), in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), will launch a one-year pilot project to develop a cost-effective method to collect critically needed fishery dependent data on black sea bass (Centropristis striata) in the Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic Bight region. The project will be approached collaboratively by a team of commercial and recreational fishermen and fisheries scientists and managers, and will involve eight months of black sea bass catch and discard characterization from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. The Black Sea Bass Research Fleet will involve eight fishing vessels from a variety of gear types, including trawl, lobster/crab trap, gillnet, and hook and line, in collecting biological black sea bass data as part of routine fishing practices. Participant fishermen will use a specialized tablet app to efficiently and accurately record biological information about black sea bass catch and bycatch throughout the year. The results from the proposed project will help to fill existing data gaps for the northern Atlantic black sea bass, which is an essential first step in developing a management plan that reflects the current state of the black sea bass resource.

The CFRF will be soliciting applications from fishing vessels based in Rhode Island to participate in the Black Sea Bass Research Fleet in September 2016. More information about the project, including application materials, will be available on the CFRF Black Sea Bass Research Fleet webpage.

The CFRF looks forward to getting the Black Sea Bass Research Fleet up and running! 

The CFRF Welcomes the Quahog Research Fleet!

The CFRF, in partnership with RWU and RI DEM, is launching a Quahog Research Fleet in Narragansett Bay. The project involves commercial shellfishermen in collecting biological quahog data via bullraking sampling as part of routine fishing practices. Project data will be used to supplement the RI DEM hydraulic dredge survey, ultimately providing more robust data for the quahog stock assessment. 

On August 10th,  the CFRF held the first training session for the Quahog Research Fleet. We are proud to welcome Bo Christensen, David Ghigliotty, Gerry Schey, Jarrod Goulart, and Ernest Wilcox to our fleet!

At the training session, fleet participants had a a chance to practice using the specialized tablet app (On Deck Data) and to get comfortable with the equipment and work flow. Everyone was very engaged and had great suggestions. We look forward to working with our fleet as they get up and running on September 1st! A huge thank you to our collaborators Dale Leavitt at Roger Williams University, and Conor McManus at RI DEM for their contributions to this project.  

For more information about the Quahog Research Fleet, please visit: http://www.cfrfoundation.org/quahog-research-fleet/ .

CFRF- WHOI Shelf Research Fleet Collected 200+ Profiles

The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) launched the Shelf Research Project in October 2014. A fleet of nine fishing vessels have been collecting oceanographic data from across the continental shelf, using Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth instruments (CTDs) to conduct water column profiles.

Today we are pleased to announce that our fleet has collected over 200 profiles! We at CFRF and our partners at WHOI appreciate the hard work of our fleet to collect this data.

For more information please check out our project page: http://www.cfrfoundation.org/shelf-research-fleet/

Chef's Table: Rhode Island Seafood hosted by CFRF and JWU

On July 21, 2016 some of Rhode Island’s finest chefs, including JWU alumni Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway and Matt Varga of Gracie’s, Providence, participated in “Chef’s Table: Rhode Island Seafood,” hosted by the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and Johnson and Wales University (JWU) at Hope & Main in Warren, R.I. The event provided a venue for fishermen and chefs to explore ways to maintain a healthy seafood industry in the state, increase Rhode Islander’s awareness about their own natural resources, and enhance the use of local seafood on the menus of some of the state’s finest restaurants. On the menu was Spiny Dogfish, Conger Eel, Scup, Winter Skate, Butterfish, Striped Sea Robin, Jonah Crab, Whelk, Quahog, and Squid.

Rhode Island Public Radio's report on the event is available at http://ripr.org/post/sea-robin-anyone-chefs-get-acquainted-local-seafood . Happy eating!



JWU and Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation

tap into local species for “Chef’s Table” 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — July 21, 2016 — Some of Rhode Island’s finest chefs, including JWU alumni Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway and Matt Varga of Gracie’s, Providence, will participate in “Chef’s Table: Rhode Island Seafood,” hosted by the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and Johnson & Wales University (JWU), on Thursday, July 21, 2016, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Hope & Main in Warren, R.I. 

The event will encourage chefs to continue their efforts to utilize lesser known seafood species that are landed in Rhode Island, including: butterfish, sea robin, and skate. Dogfish, eel, fluke, hake, Jonah crab, monkfish, quahogs, scup, squid, tautog, and whelk will also be on the menu.  

Anna Malek Mercer, Ph.D., executive director, CFRF, and local fishermen will join the chefs for an interactive event that will include discussions, seafood prep, cooking, and tastings. She notes, “Chef’s Table will provide a venue for fishermen and chefs to explore ways to maintain a healthy seafood industry in the state, increase Rhode Islander’s awareness about their own natural resources, and enhance the use of local seafood on the menus of some of the state’s finest restaurants.”

Johnson & Wales University Media Contact:  Miriam Weinstein/JWU/ 401-598-1157 /miriam.weinstein@jwu.edu

CFRF Job Announcement

The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation seeks to hire a part-time Research Associate to assist with the implementation of collaborative research projects and general Foundation administration, beginning September 1, 2016.  Please click HERE to find a description of the position and application instructions.  The application deadline is August 1, 2016.

CFRF Receives Outstanding Organization Award from Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society

On June 16, 2016, the CFRF received the Outstanding Organization Award at the summer meeting of the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. CFRF Executive Director, Anna Malek Mercer, accepted the award on behalf of the the Foundation.

The Outstanding Organization Award was created in 1996 and recognizes academic, governmental, private, or tribal organizations for their current or historic advances in the stewardship of aquatic ecosystems, advancement of fisheries science, or service to the profession.  Criteria for this award include exemplary activities to 1) protect, conserve or restore aquatic ecosystems, 2) improve sustainable recreational and commercial fishery opportunities, 3) develop new scientific methods, equipment, computer software, etc., 4) improve interactions of their organizations with aquatic resource user groups and the general public, or 5) enhance the status and visibility of the fisheries profession.

The CFRF is honored to have received this award and is deeply grateful to the many fishermen, scientists, and managers who have contributed to CFRF's work over the past decade. 

CFRF / WHOI Release New Shelf Research Fleet Video


Fishermen plying the waters off the southern New England coast have noticed significant changes in recent years.  Though generations of commercial fishermen have made their livings on these highly productive waters, now, they say, they are experiencing the impacts of climate change.

"The water is warming up, and we see different species around than we used to," says Kevin Jones, captain of the F/V Heather Lynn, which operates out of Point Judith, Rhode Island.

To help understand the ongoing changes in their slice of the ocean, Jones and other fishermen in the region are now part of a fleet gathering much-needed climate data for scientists through a partnership with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

"There has been a lack of consistent measurements in this region, particularly across the continental shelf south of Rhode Island," says Glen Gawarkiewicz, a physical oceanographer at WHOI and principal investigator on the project. "In order to understand the changes in ocean conditions and how those changes impact ecosystems and the people who depend on them, we need to collect more data, more often."

The Shelf Research Fleet Project began in 2014 with that goal in mind. The fleet is made up of commercial fishing vessels that are fishing in or transiting through the study area throughout the year.

"We're utilizing fishermen's time on the water and their knowledge of the ocean environment to develop an understanding of this highly dynamic area," says Anna Malek Mercer, research fleet director and CFRF executive director. "[The partnership is] unique both in terms of approach and in the data that's coming out."

As part of the project, Malek Mercer and others from CFRF trained captains and crew members in how to take weekly measurements using a Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) instrument. The data from the CTD is available in real-time to view onboard the fishing vessel using an iPad tablet. Along with the CTD data, the fishermen can also include notes on the tide, weather conditions, and fish species observed in the area. The data are then sent to researchers and are posted on a website that is accessible to the public.

Members of the fishing research fleet participate in workshops with WHOI scientists where they share their observations about fish movements in the study area, discuss the data collected, and help researchers interpret results.

"The fishermen's insights are really important," Gawarkiewicz says. "And one of best parts of this project has been in building relationships and communication with the commercial fishermen."

In addition to opening up communication between scientists and fishermen, the research fishing fleet approach is proving to be a cost-effective way to collect the needed oceanographic data.

"At-sea oceanographic sampling is very expensive, and we've been seeing a reduction in the number of research expeditions," Gawarkiewicz says. "The fishermen are already going out all the time in the areas we need data, and they're provided a stipend for their participation in the program. So it has really been a win-win situation."

Since data collection started in November 2014, results from more than 160 CTD casts have been logged. Scientists use the CTD data to assess the frequency, timing, and extent of intrusions of warm, salty water along the slope and Gulf Stream waters onto the continental shelf. Long-term, the data will help scientists better understand how changes in large scale forcing—including the position of the Jet Stream—affects annual temperature and salinity extremes, and cross-shelf exchange processes during periods of rapid change. 

While the increase in data is crucial to the research, Gawarkiewicz says he has gotten so much more out of the collaboration.

"It's been a tremendously rewarding project to work on," he adds. "I've learned a lot about trust and about different ways of looking at things as a result of working on this project. It's made me more self critical about the problems that I'm working on. I want them to be relevant to society—both economically and culturally."

The pilot program, which was funded by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will continue through October 2016.  Both Gawarkiewicz and Malek Mercer say they hope to find additional funding to continue the collaborative program indefinitely.

"The Shelf Research Fleet embodies an approach to climate research that is extraordinarily valuable for all parties involved," says Malek Mercer. "Scientists benefit from access to fine-scale oceanographic data as well as decades of fishermen's observations.  And fishermen benefit from a better understanding of the ecosystem that they rely upon for their livelihoods. Over the long term, these partnerships and data sources can help inform the sustainable management of our ocean ecosystems in the face of a changing climate." 

The successful pilot program is highlighted in a new video produced by CFRF.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu.

The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation is a non-profit, private research foundation founded and directed by members of the commercial fishing industry and other support businesses. Established in 2004, its primary mission is to support and conduct collaborative fisheries research that assists in the achievement of sustainable fisheries through the generation of better information and effective technologies. For more information, please visit www.cfrfoundation.org.


Related links:

CFRF - WHOI Shelf Research Fleet



The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation



WHOI Scientists Receive $1 Million Grant from MacArthur Foundation http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/macarthur-coastal#sthash.fYOFUwR0.dpuf


Accelerated Warming of the Continental Shelf Off Northeast Coast http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/deep-warming#sthash.xn8maA3U.dpuf