Free and Common

Sustainable Commercial Fisheries

Promoting Free and Common Access to Wild Fishery Resources

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Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Farm Raised Shellfish!

 Research from Oceanus (online magazine that explores oceans) supports why Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Farm Raised Shellfish!
The picture below is of a clam bed lease in Wellfleet Harbor, MA that was infected with QPX (quahog parasite unknown), which is an infectious Trojan horse clam disease. Wellfleet Harbor will never be the same after man selected which clams should grow instead of letting nature select the clams through biodiversity. Since all of the planted clams are essentially the same genetically, disease goes right through the population like wildfire.
Note in the linked story that Rhode Island is one of the only clam producing states that has not had an outbreak of QPX. This is because there are virtually no clam farms in Rhode Island due to strong opposition from the "Quahoggers"-the wild clam diggers and they grow too slow in RI's cold waters.
Remember-It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature! Click image for story and more pics
Farmed clams are easily taken-you just walk down to the beach where they're planted ass-thick and dig them up. The wild stock fisherman must venture out and rely on his art of being tuned in to weather and tide/current predicting, finding the wild clam beds, equipment utilization, and direct competition from other fisherman - which essentially means that your "spot" could get jumped while you're working in it. Clam farms often turn public tide lands into  private property-as in "no trespassing."  Wild quahoggers work on free and common open access public land, which means there are no staking claims to private property. There is a big difference in the degree of difficulty in producing wild clams compared with farm raised clams. Commercial fishing is the most dangerous occupation. No one is dying going out getting your farm raised shellfish.
Federally subsidized aquaculture puts natural wild stock fisherman out of business. Our food sources need to be one of our highest priorities. We'll be adding information about sustainable commercial fisheries to this site to keep you informed. Please support sustainable wild fisheries.


Day in the life:Bounty of the Bay


Each morning, dedicated groups of quahoggers leave from docks scattered throughout Narragansett Bay to dig up the natural and native bounty waiting to be harvested. Twenty-plus years ago, more than 2,000 commercial fishermen were quahoggers; this year there are 534 active licensed commercial quahoggers, and even fewer call it their full-time profession. Robert Russo, a twenty-six-year-old Bristol native, shares what it’s like to live the life

of a Rhode Island quahogger.

 This seventy page paper is a visionary look at the threats to the 3000 Rhode Island Quahoggers in 1981. The two main threats that are given in the introduction are-Pollution in the Upper Bay, and the prospect of an expanding aquaculture industry in the Lower Bay. What an accurate prediction it proves to be 33 years later!
Commercial Fishing
I was fortunate to learn early in my fishing career at the age of 21, that the laws of nature do not follow the laws of man. I was sailing on the 83' F/V Edna May out of Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island, to haul lobster traps that were set along the Atlantis Canyon region of the Continental Shelf. These areas are known as 'The Fish Tail,' and the 'Fathom Curves'- about 100 miles south of RI. This was late November - the 22nd, 1980 - the forecast was for fair weather all 3 days of our trip.
By early morning of the second day we began experiencing 100 mph early winter winds with mountainous seas. This storm was a classic example of Explosive Storm Cyclogenesis-or Weather Bomb-a Storm that builds up to extreme intensity from nothing in a virtual instant. 
Unlike in the story and movie Perfect Storm, where weather forecasters predicted the combination of storms that would create the Perfect Storm, this storm came out of nowhere, and showed the men plotting that nature follows its own rules. Bobby Brown of the Perfect Storm fame and his son Peter play a major part in this story.
Michael Tougias did a great job describing the unfolding disaster that went down as the day with the most distress calls in New England history- and it's miraculous ending. Check out Fatal Forecast!
 83' F/V Edna May

This is a great video of what conditions were like during the Fatal Forecast event. This video was taken from a 300' ship, much larger than the fishing boats that were caught in the Fatal Forecast storm! 

The 50' steel hulled lobster boat Fairwind 'pitchpoled',

or flipped end over end, coming down the backside of a huge combing breaker (sea) in conditions very much like in this video. Out of four crew onboard the Fairwind, only Ernie Hazard survived.  His story of surviving almost 48 hours in a liferaft and a survival suit in conditions similar to conditions in the video is a miracle, and defines the limits of human endurance and will to live. 


Rogue Waves 100 foot high finally documented! 

On February 15, 1982, the offshore oil drilling rig Ocean Ranger was struck by a rogue wave off the coast of Newfoundland that measured almost 100' high.  This enormous rig capsized (it was held in place by twelve 45,000 pound anchors) and sank after being hit by the rogue wave, killing all 84 crew members.

I was on the Ocean Ranger 3 years earlier when it was conducting exploratory drilling 65 miles off the coast of New Jersey in 1978-9. I was 19 years old at the time, and was working for Peabody Coastal Services doing fuel quality and pollution control work. Ode and respect to the power of the ocean! (Wiki Photo)


Check Out 

Look for updates on for the latest digs  on the the RI Quahog scene.


Harvesting the Bay.

Fathers, Sons, and the Last of the Wild Shellfishermen

In an in-depth study of the Rhode Island shellfishing community where he was raised, a journalist celebrates the lives of his father and grandfather and probes the nature of sustainability.

Huling describes the physically demanding life of these fishermen who haul the hard-shell clams, known as quahogs, from the depths of Narragansett Bay by using long-handled tools called bullrakes. In the author’s opinion, the sustainable lifestyle of the bullraker represents a model for a radical shift that must take place in how our society values hard physical labor.

Jimmy Wampum - Rhode Island Mussel Man!!


Jimmy Wampum prepares to unload 50 bushels of wild Rhode Island mussels from the F/V Aurora at American Mussel Harvesters in North Kingstown, Rhode Island (photo above). 

Photo on left shows the ~2,500lbs of mussels being prepared for processing. 

"I fed about 2500 people a wild, organic, and nutritious seafood product with that one boatload, which took a few hours to get. It was such a great feeling to take an underutilized  food source that was just lying at the bottom of Narragansett Bay, in unimaginable abundance, and feed people with it. The best part of the mussel boom of 2009-2010 was the fact that it was a rare fishery that 'the management' had not destroyed by limiting in any way, beyond permitting and licensing. By the time 'the management' noticed the Narragansett Bay mussel fishery, which had not been seen in 20-30 years, the mussel resource was already well into it's second boom year. The few guys that were involved in the fishery watched the mussels go through their normal 2-3 year growth cycle, then watched them all die off within a matter of weeks. There was nothing left to manage, thanks to mother nature. The most amazing part of the mussel fishery was-'the experts and management'  knew virtually nothing about it, which meant the didn't have a chance to ruin it!" Jim Russo/2014

Saving Seafood
Saving Seafood conducts media and public outreach on behalf of the seafood industry, as well as communications to keep industry members aware of issues and events of concern.
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Copyright 2010-2015 Free and Common is a division of Leading Edge Sciences, LLC 

 'Swim That Rock' Videos ( third video after book trailer)

Back in 2009 Academy Award winning film maker Ross Kaufman documented the last words from the Rhode Island quahog industry. Rhode Island once boasted the largest outboard powered fishing fleet in the world-The Rhode Island Quahogger, with  2-300o participants during the 1980's. The Rhode Island Quahogger has been reduced to some 50-150 participants in 2014-it's 'last man standing' for the Rhode Island Quahogger.

Dave Parker sums up what happened to the 2-3000 men and women working the Bay in the most undeniable fashion-"they don't want you doing it."  The 'they' that Dave is speaking of is mainly the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of Rhode Island.  Greg Murphy tells of the suffering of the remaining Rhode Island Quahoggers, and his comments go back to 2009. It's a much worse situation now in 2014 for the Rhode Island Quahogger.

Free and Common is honored to host and post this very important work. (second video after book trailer)

Fisheries Management Disaster Part 1-Video

Fisheries Management Disaster Part 1 could be one of the most important films made that documents how corporate control for seafood destroys communities. The fisheries management tactic of 'divide and conquer' is clearly illustrated and documented in Fisheries Management Disaster, which dates back to the mid 1990's.

This 'divide and conquer' tactic is the same tactic that has been used over the last 30 years to destroy the centuries old New England fishing industry.

It is clear to see in the video the impact of taking a man's right to work away. This right is the eternal 'Rights of Man', the undeniable right to freedom. Fisheries Management Disaster shows how a few people can destroy the lives of many, just because they can, or because they just-'don't want you to', as illustrated in 'Swim That Rock.' 

Be sure to watch fisheries Management Disaster Part 2. 

Clam Wars! Video

Clam Wars is another great documentary about the  North Oyster Bay, NY, Baymens Association, and their  opposition to the destruction of the free and common right to fish and gather food-"The Rights of Man.' 

S.H.A.R.C-Sandy Hook Alliance of Real Clammers

S.H.A.R.C.-Sandy Hook Alliance of Real Clammers is a fishermans rights organization started in the fall of 2006 in Highlands N.J. whose main objective is to protect the rights of commercial fisherman and their way of life, and to get rid of NEMO.

The 'Swim That Rock' website is dedicated to the clamming legend Greg King, who was a member of  S.H.A.R.C.-Sandy Hook Alliance of Real Clammers, in his final days as a Bayman.

 April 29, 2013 Boston Rally at Fish Pier demands federal relief for New England-Video

Published on Apr 29, 2013

A rally of several hundred fishermen and processors on the Boston Fish Pier this morning heard Massachusetts Senator Elisabeth Warren and Mo Cowan, along with congressional and state politicians demand fair treatment of New England fish harvesters by Washington.

The rally was organized by the Northeast Seafood Coalition. With cutbacks ranging from 50% to more than 70% for many species quotas due to start May 1st, and the failure of congress so far to authorize federal disaster relief for New England fishermen, the situation is extremely dire.

What most angers the seafood industry here is that they have been whipsawed by the changing scientific recommendations from NOAA in a manner that cannot possibly reflect actual conditions.

 One Of The Most Important Issues Facing the U.S.-Sig Hansen of Discovery Channel's 'Deadliest Catch' speaks out on fisheries mis-management  8/2008

The destruction of the commercial fisherman in the United States and communities that support them by federal and state fisheries managers should be of the utmost concern to Americans. The importance of this issue cannot be underestimated as our country moves through unprecedented stormy economic times.

The system of state and federal management that has been developed over the last 30 years has led to the destruction of the right of communities to meet one of the most vital needs of it's people- real food.  Local commercial fisherman supplying food to the inhabitants of communities throughout the world is as old as time. 

The local commercial fisherman still holds a revered position in many societies. The village is waiting onshore in gratitude for the return of the heroic fisherman, and the life giving healthy food they catch.  In the U.S., and many other industrialized nations, the commercial fisherman has been demonized by regulators and environmentalists as blight on society. 

Leading Edge Sciences promotes the awareness of this issue, and defends  the basic constitutional rights of local communities to insure their commercial fisherman have the access to vital fisheries resources their communities need to survive.   Click on this link for you tube clips on this issue.  

 Rhode Island Quahogs

Nutritious and delicious!! Hearty (Sushi grade), organic and hand-harvested.
Native American Indians fed their babies clam broth!!


Delicious clam recipes can be found in 
"The New England Clam Shack Cookbook."
Rhode Island bullrake harvesting quahogs
Check out for the latest digs on the Rhode Island quahog fishing industry.
Quahogger's-The Film


Quahoggers explores the working life of two shellfishermen in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. By following them, the film looks at the past, present and uncertain future of the quahogging industry.

The quahogger's reminisce and romanticize about the past and their life on the water while also telling of their fear of the future. Problems that threaten the the future of the industry, such as environmental concerns, aquaculture and less people joining the field are explored.
The film ultimately asks the question: is there a future for Narragansett Bay shellfishermen?