Today, the Rhode Island congressional delegation announced $227,850 in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding for a team based at the University of Rhode Island (URI) to research the effects of climate change on Atlantic fisheries. The team will be headed by Dr. Jeremy Collie, a leading researcher at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), and will include scientists from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NFSC), Narragansett Laboratory located on URI’s Bay Campus.
“Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic are important drivers for our economy, and we need the best information possible to understand how climate change is affecting these waterways and our local fisheries. Luckily, we have some of the best researchers in this field right here in Rhode Island, and I congratulate Dr. Collie and his team on this award. This federal funding will allow scientists at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography to help us better prepare for the challenges posed by climate change, and make informed decisions about how to adapt to this evolving threat to our environment,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Fishermen whose families have made a living on Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean for generations have told me ‘Sheldon, it’s getting weird out there.’ Climate change is disturbing their fisheries in ways we’re just beginning to understand. We have to learn what’s going on to better prepare for changes that are taking place,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a founder and co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. “I’m glad this federal funding will go to a team led by one of the best oceanographic institutions in the world. Congratulations to Dr. Collie and the GSO on this award.”
“Climate change has a significant impact, not just on the environment of our state, but on our economy as well. This research will shore up fisheries in Rhode Island, creating a more sustainable industry that can better withstand and adapt to a changing climate and the subsequent consequences to our ecosystem,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.
“I am delighted that URI is receiving critical federal funding that will support research into the effects of climate change on Rhode Island fisheries and provide benefits for our state’s fishermen. I congratulate Dr. Collie on receiving this significant award, and I look forward to continuing to support his research that benefits our fishing industry,” said Congressman David Cicilline.
The URI team is one of seven to win a portion of $5 million in competitive NOAA grants that have been designated for research to increase understanding of climate-related effects on fish stocks and fisheries. Six of the projects support research on the Atlantic Ocean’s Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, which extends from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras. The ecosystem is a crucial breeding ground and habitat for recreational and commercial fisheries in the Atlantic. The seventh award will support a project in the North Pacific.
U.S. commercial and recreational marine fisheries contributed $195 billion in sales and supported 1.7 million American jobs in 2013. As part of NOAA’s Climate Science Strategy to better protect those critical industries, the agency is working to produce and deliver climate-related information on protected species conservation and fishery management to industry, states, and coastal communities.