Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Melva Treviño Peña

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Mendenhall


While on-shore fishers in Rhode Island fish recreationally, a large portion also fish for food, and many are fishers from marginalized racial and ethnic backgrounds. However, communities of color are significantly underrepresented in environmental studies in Rhode Island, particularly in coastal and marine research, so there is little known about these groups’ uses, behaviors, and perceptions towards coastal and marine resources. Through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and photography, this ethnographic study investigated the impact of artisanal fishers on food security and socio-ecological systems in Rhode Island. The findings show that the top three reasons to fish are to relax, to bring home a meal, and for fun. Ninety percent of participants share the fish they catch with friends and family, and some participants rely solely on their catch for fish. Although artisanal fishers use a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License in Rhode Island to recreate, it is not just a recreational activity. Many fishers acquire the license for other purposes, including for food, which exemplifies that coastal access and food access are inextricably linked. Further, fishing not only provides access to fish, but allows fishers to self-determine what they eat, making it a food sovereignty activity. By understanding alternative food networks, specifically self- and community-food provisioning, we can learn to support the people and networks that currently provide sustainable seafood access to historically food-insecure communities.



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