Development of a Fishermen-Based Research Fleet to Contribute to the Management of Quahog
(Mercenaria mercenaria) Resources in Rhode Island Waters

Quahogs sampled


(August 1, 2016 - January 31, 2019)


General Description:

The primary goal of this pilot project was to initiate a new era of cooperation and communication among fishermen, scientists, and resource managers to support a successful, sustainable, transparent, and collaborative management approach for the quahog fishery in Narragansett Bay.


The project objectives included:

  1. Establishing a Quahog Research Fleet with the knowledge, tools and validity to contribute to the RI-DEM quahog stock assessment data collection program;

  2. Reduce uncertainties in the quahog stock assessment and promote sustainable management of the quahog resource by addressing spatial and temporal data limitations;

  3. Develop a model for industry-based data collection that can be duplicated in other fisheries and regions;

  4. Build capacity to involve RI shellfishermen in coastal monitoring and other types of marine research.

Project Team:

  • Anna Malek Mercer, CFRF

  • Thomas Heimann, CFRF

  • Dale Leavitt, RWU

  • Conor McManus, RI DEM

Participant Shellfishermen:

  • Bo Christensen- Warwick Cove, RI

  • David Ghigliotty- Warwick, RI

  • Gerald Schey- Warwick Cove, RI

  • Jarrod Goulart- Warren, RI

  • Ernest Wilcox- Wickford, RI



Project methods were centered around three major work components:

  1. Organize, train, and implement a Quahog Research Fleet to collect biological quahog data via bullrake sampling, focusing on areas that were inaccessible to the RI DEM hydraulic dredge survey;

  2. Calibrate the catch efficiency of bullrake sampling and the RI DEM hydraulic dredge survey via in-situ SCUBA observations to allow for direct integration of Quahog Research Fleet data with the dredge survey time series;

  3. Analyze and apply project data to the quahog stock assessment; and

  4. Develop a mechanism for Quahog Research Fleet participants to be involved in RI DEM quahog stock assessment efforts


Project Timeline :

  • February- July 2016: Equipment and protocol preparation, development of data collection app, and data management system

  • April 2016: Establishment of Project Steering Committee

  • April - July 2016: Solicitation, review and selection of Quahog Research Fleet participants

  • August 2016: Training of Quahog Research Fleet participants

  • September 2016- December 2018: Quahog Research Fleet data collection

This project was supported by:

PRoject PhOTOS: