In July, something unique happened for 12 people in Rhode Island: they took part in a commercial fishing apprenticeship.
The 20-day program was organized by the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science and the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island.
The program took place aboard fishing vessels and among related businesses in Point Judith. Participants learned everything from engine repair to net-mending.
More importantly, they learned not only the value of being a team player on a boat and becoming part of the fishing community, but also the downsides of commercial fishing, such as time constraints and relationship strains.
Those who completed the apprenticeship earned a $1,000 stipend.
How many made it through the 20-day course? All 12. According to organizers, some of those folks have even found jobs in the industry already.
Organizers say the apprenticeship may be offered again next summer. If so, they say they’ll focus more on hands-on fishing, as opposed to fishing theory which was heavily featured this year.
Funding for the program came in the form of a $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).