This photo shows me "blitzing" a supermarket seafood counter as part of Eating with the Ecosystem's annual Seafood Market Eco-Blitz. Modeled after the popular BioBlitz - an intense period of biological surveying that attempts to record all the living species within a designated area - the Seafood Market Eco-Blitz deploys a team of citizen scientists to catalog the availability and diversity of local seafood on seafood counters throughout New England.
The Market Blitz is just one of many research projects that I've been involved in over the years. I strongly believe in the value of participatory research in helping people approach problems constructively and creatively. I also believe that doing research together multiplies the power of minds so we can see things in ways that none of us could have seen alone.
Starting in 2020, all of my research projects will be linked to Shining Sea Fisheries Consulting, LLC.
Below you'll find a list of research projects past and present that I've been involved in. Reach out if you're interested in collaborating!
Current Projects (updated April 2021)
Young Fishermen's Oral Histories
Partner: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center Social Sciences Branch
The purpose of this project is to better understand solutions to the “greying of the fleet” phenomenon in fishing communities from North Carolina to Maine by profiling young fishermen who defy this general trend. This project is taking place in collaboration with scientists at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center Social Sciences Branch. Thirty-nine interviews with young fishermen have been completed and analyzed, and a report will soon be published. With the permission of participants, interviews will also be uploaded to NOAA’s Voices from the Fisheries online oral history database for members of the public and other researchers to read.
An Observational Retrospective on Ecosystem Change in Narragansett Bay
Partners: Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, 2020-present.
Past Partners: University of Rhode Island Marine Science and Management Masters Program, 2018-2019.
Narragansett Bay is changing. In the last decade, nutrient loading to the bay has been reduced by 50% as the result of wastewater treatment upgrades. Stressors related to climate change are becoming more influential. Amid all of this, a vocal group of Narragansett Bay fishermen has begun to raise serious questions about changes they are observing.The purpose of this project is to catalog fishermen’s observations of a changing Narragansett Bay ecosystem in a systematic, standardized manner that produces data that can be easily interpreted and utilized by members of the science and management community.
Application of the Principles of Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management to Seafood Marketing
Partners: Eating with the Ecosystem and Local Catch Network
The purpose of this project is to compile a vision and roadmap for integrating the theory of fisheries ecology with the marketing of wild seafood and create a network of experts invested in driving this vision forward. Through a collaborative writing exercise, this project will enroll scientific, food systems, and seafood supply chain experts from around New England in a common endeavor to shift away from single-species understandings of seafood sustainability towards whole-ecosystem approaches that engage all actors in the supply chain in making our ecosystem and seafood systems resilient and regenerative. The outputs of this project will include a 20-40 page online report, based on a literature review and collaborative thinking by 10-20 supporting authors and a regional convening of ecosystem fishery scientists, seafood supply chain actors, and food system shapers that forges the relationships necessary to advance the report’s recommendations. Then, we will partner with the Local Catch Network to adapt this vision to the local needs of values-based local seafood marketing initiatives nationwide.
The Other EBFM: Designing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Marketing to Complement Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
Partners: University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography; Eating with the Ecosystem. Duration: 2016-2019.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is the idea that fisheries should be managed as a system - an interconnected set of biotic and abiotic components interacting as a unit - rather than as a collection of independent stocks. One theory in EBFM is the notion of balanced fishing - that we should be harvesting species from an ecosystem in proportion to each species' ecological production. This project is using ecological calculations, bio economic research, and citizen science to answer the questions: how well does the composition of species in our regional New England seafood marketplace match the composition of species in our local ecosystems (and what would make these two things match better)? I am working on this project as an employee of Dr. Jeremy Collie at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography in close collaboration with the nonprofit Eating with the Ecosystem.
State of New England's Seafood Habitat, or "The Role of Fisheries Habitat Restoration in Meeting New England's "50% by '60" Food System Goal"
Partners: Eating with the Ecosystem. Duration: 2018-2019.
The purpose of this project is to use desk research to summarize the current state of New England’s seafood habitat and consolidate expert opinion on habitat protection and restoration goals that would be necessary to support the New England Food Vision’s 50% by 60 goal. The report will focus on three key themes: (1) What is seafood habitat? What kinds of habitat are important? What is the connection between habitat and seafood production? Historically, how has loss of habitat quality impacted New England’s seafood supply?, (2) Current habitat metrics: Where are we now? (a dashboard of indicators: acres salt marsh, # dams, etc), and (3) Future goals: What do we need to restore to help boost the seafood supply in support of the 50% x 60 goal? This project is a collaboration with a student at the University of Rhode Island's Masters of Environmental Science and Management program and Eating with the Ecosystem. The report will form the basis for Eating with the Ecosystem's seafood marketplace habitat education program. Additionally, it will make current habitat indicators available for inclusion in the Food Solutions New England network's State of the New England Food System online dashboard. I am working on this project as a volunteer.
Resilient Fisheries RI Project
Partners: Rhode Island Natural History Survey, 125 Rhode Island commercial fishermen. Duration: 2015-2018.
This project was not research in the conventional sense, but rather a form of participatory action research conducted collaboratively with many other members of Rhode Island's fishing industry. Starting off with a focus on climate change, the project soon expanded to consider the full spectrum of types of uncertainty and change facing Rhode Island's fishermen and shoreside operators. The project included 48 one-on-one interviews, ten evening seminars, one externally facilitated all-day scenarios planning exercise with 45 fisheries participants, and an extensive consensus-based recommendation vetting process. It resulted in publication of three detailed interim reports and the Rhode Island Commercial Fisheries Blueprint for Resilience, a consensus-based strategy document by and for Rhode Island's commercial fishing sector. I was involved in this project as a contractor to the Rhode Island Natural History Survey. I continue to play the role of administrator of the Resilient Fisheries RI list-serv, an email list that was created to support broad communication among fishing industry participants. I am currently seeking other individuals in the fisheries world to share this admin role with me. If you are interested, please get in touch!
American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting Symposium: "Non-Fishing Impacts in Fisheries Management: Are We Doing Enough, and How Could We Do More?"
In August, 2017 I helped coordinate a symposium at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL, on the topic of "Non-Fishing Impacts in Fisheries Management: Are We Doing Enough, and How Could We Do More?" Non-fishing impacts is a category of environmental stressors with effects on fish production that are not caused by fishing activity itself. This category includes pollution, habitat degradation, and climate change. These impacts can be significant, yet they receive little attention in the prevailing fisheries management system, which is set up to directly regulate only those impacts resulting from fishing. This symposium brought together presenters from government, academia, and nonprofits to reflect on whether the current approach to governance of non-fishing impacts is sufficient - and if not, what more could be done? Someday, I will write up these reflections into a paper that can be broadly shared!
U.S. Coastal Road Trip: Interviewing Commercial Fishermen Habitat Activists
Between 2010 and 2011, I made several road trips to portions of the U.S. coast (the Chesapeake Bay area, Gulf of Mexico coast, and the West Coast from California to Washington) to talk with other fishermen and learn about how non-fishing impacts were affecting their fisheries. In particular, I was interested in learning about things that commercial fishermen were doing to combat these threats and restore vitality to the habitats that their fisheries depend on. Although I planned to use the content gathered through those trips to develop a website about these topics, I never got around to it! Nonetheless, I learned a great deal and hope to someday reconnect with those fishermen and others who are working hard to protect fish habitats.
Collaboration or collision? The relationship between artisanal fishermen and their technical consultants, and its relevance for Chile’s Shellfish Management Areas.
Under the auspices of a U.S. Fulbright researcher grant. Duration: 2006-2008.
Thanks to a U.S. Fulbright student grant, I spent the year 2006 traveling the coast of Chile - from Chiloe in the south to Arica in the north - interviewing commercial shellfish divers and scientists about the relationships forged between the two groups in the context of Chile's novel shellfish management program. Called the "areas de manejo," or "shellfish management areas," this program gives groups of fishermen exclusive access to areas of seabed on the condition that they develop local management plans for these resources, in collaboration with scientific consultants. Through this research, I gathered insights into the different knowledge systems employed by these two groups to understand nature, and explored how they have tried to bridge knowledge gaps to collaboratively manage shellfish resources. Several publications resulting from this project are listed below.
For a list of publications and presentations, view my Curriculum Vitae.