January 26, 2012

Galilee Task Force poised to begin work

STATE HOUSE – A task force established by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to strengthen the fishing industry based in Galilee is ready to begin its work.

The 11-member Port of Galilee Task Force, created by legislation (2011-H 6260) Representative Tanzi sponsored in 2011, is scheduled to meet for the first time next week, when it will review findings of a Cornell University study on Rhode Island’s commercial seafood and fishing industries commissioned by the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. 

“I’m not sure it’s widely known how much the Port of Galilee, and commercial fishing in general, contributes to our state. This task force will be able to highlight the importance of the port to our state’s economy, but more importantly, it will work to identify ways the state can strengthen the fishing industry for long-term stability, particularly as more people recognize the advantages of locally sourced food,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Wakefield, Peace Dale, Narragansett). 

House Speaker Gordon D. Fox recently made his appointments to the task force, including Representative Tanzi, Rep. Peter Martin (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Laurence W. Ehrhardt (R-Dist. 32, North Kingstown); net designer and maker Jon Knight; and fishermen John Rainone, Jason Jarvis, Mike Marchetti and Chris Roebuck. Also serving on the task force under the establishing legislation are Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Keith Stokes or his designee, Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit or her designee, and Narragansett Town Manager Grady Miller or his designee.

“I’m looking forward to hearing about and showcasing just how much the fishing industry means to our state, and how important it is to our economy. I expect that we will uncover a number of things our state could be doing to help the industry thrive, and I eagerly anticipate helping to bring about those improvements,” said Representative Tanzi.

The task force will meet for the first time Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 135 on the first floor of the State House, when it will receive a presentation by the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Marine Program on a report the program published in October profiling Rhode Island’s commercial fishing and seafood industries. 

The report estimates that the total annual value of the sales associated with fish landed by Rhode Island vessels is about $200 million. According to the researchers, nearly 7,000 people are employed catching, processing, distributing and selling the fish harvested by Rhode Island vessels.

“What this report shows us is that the Rhode Island commercial fishing industry really is a strong and vibrant part of our state’s economic portfolio,” said Peg Parker, Executive Director of the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, the organization that funded the study. “We are looking at it as a potential sector for growth. Our optimism is based on the fact that we have some stocks rebounding off our coast, a diverse industry and a great location. Rhode Island is starting to look like a regional hub in terms of the fishing industry.”