From the late 1970s through the ’80s, the small, silver-colored butterfish was a high-flying commodity in Japan. Millions upon millions of pounds were bought and sold, and almost the entire harvest came off Rhode Island vessels.
For nearly two decades the once-booming East Coast butterfish market has been dormant. But that could change. In the past two years NOAA Fisheries has begun raising the butterfish quota. Rhode Island fishermen and fish sellers, including Glenn Goodwin, co-owner of SeaFreeze Ltd., are now looking for ways to reclaim a lost market. Above, Goodwin stands alongside the take-out chute at SeaFreeze Shoreside in Narragansett.
The U.S. Small Business Administration said that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes in Kent, Providence and Washington counties as a result of the drought that began on July 1.
The Rhode Island Foundation awarded $125,000 in grants to fund work on shoreline protection and the shellfish industry by the Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.
When charter-boat captain Steven Anderson takes a group of fishermen out from the Port of Galilee in Narragansett on his 31-foot boat Bare Bones, he takes a touch-screen tablet so he can record data about fluke, also called summer flounder.
Overfishing, pollution and changing onshore habits have conspired to nearly wipe out Rhode Island’s wild oysters. But thanks to a joint project by environmentalists and some Rhode Island restaurants named Oysters Gone Wild, the shellfish has hope to reclaim at least some of its former prominence and along with it, return Narragansett Bay to a more pristine state.