Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Robert Thompson


For centuries fisheries institutions have shaped Rhode Island’s storied fishing tradition, a hallmark of which has been access to marine resources by the residents of the state. In 2001, after a series of moratoriums on commercial fishing licenses, Rhode Island embarked on an extensive public process through the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island to identify fishery management options based on the input of stakeholders. The outcome of that process was the passage of Senate Bill 2771 sub A – otherwise known as Rhode Island Gen. Law 20.2-1 (2002). The legislation ended a moratorium on the issuance of new commercial fishing licenses in the state, and called for the establishment of license limitation programs that accommodate new entry into state waters fisheries. In 2009, the state approved a catch share pilot program, effectively changing how access to the resource is constructed.

This research seeks to better understand the impetus for preserving access to the fishery in 2002, and determine if the catch share pilot program is consistent with the original intent of the Act. A Grounded Theory methodology is employed to illustrate the entire management situation leading up to the passage of Rhode Island Gen. Law 20.2-1 (2002). The results of this research indicate that while access has not been functionally compromised for new entrants through the enactment of a sector pilot program, a normative and cognitive disconnect exists between the intent of the legislation and the catch share pilot program. Moreover, the values and worldviews of fisheries stakeholders in Rhode Island are influenced by a range of regional and international institutions that did not inform the 2002 legislation.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.