RWU Law, URI among institutions to share $1.2M grant to help local aquaculture

ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY School of Law is one of several regional institutions sharing a $1.2 million grant to promote the area's shellfish aquaculture industry. / COURTESY ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY

BRISTOL – The Marine Affairs Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law and Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, housed at the law school, has been included in a $1.2 million grant to promote the growth of southern New England shellfish aquaculture, as part of a National Sea Grant initiative.

The University of Rhode Island will also be a partner in the program, which will aim to promote collaborative aquaculture projects in the region using science-based tools and information, while educating the public, news media and decision-makers about the social, economic and environmental effects of aquaculture.

The project will be led by Connecticut Sea Grant and the University of Connecticut. In addition to RWU Law and URI, partners include Rhode Island Sea Grant; Woods Hole Sea Grant; the New England Aquarium; the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research; the National Marine Fisheries Service office in Milford, Conn.; Clark University; and the George Perkins Marsh Institute.

“We are excited to be a part of this effort by the National Sea Grant program to advance sustainable aquaculture in the United States,” Julia Wyman, director of the Marine Affairs Institute and Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, said in a news release. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to work with multiple partners in New England to best inform the growth of southern New England shellfish aquaculture.”

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Wyman said the grant will allow the institute to hire several RWU law students to work on the project through the Rhode Island Sea Grant Law Fellow Program. “We look forward to providing sound legal and policy research to complement the scientific and economic research related to shellfish aquaculture,” she said.

RWU said the law students will gain experience in how governing laws impact the industry.

“This project will engage our students directly in helping Rhode Island shellfish businesses understand how legal requirements apply to them and in helping regulators modernize the rules governing this growing industry in the region,” said Read Porter, senior staff attorney for the Marine Affairs Institute and Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program.

The funding is part of a $16 million package of awards announced by National Sea Grant in September. The awards will collectively fund 42 research projects nationwide aimed at advancing sustainable aquaculture in the United States. All awards require a 50% match of nonfederal funds. RWU Law’s proposal was one of 42 projects chosen from among 136 proposals requesting more than $52 million in federal funds.

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