Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the mission of Free and Common.com?

A: Free and Common.com was established in 2010 by lifelong Rhode Island fisherman/quahogger Jim Russo to promote free and common access to the fishery resources of Narragansett Bay. Since that time, most of the New England fisheries, including RI Quahogging, have been destroyed by ‘the management’ and aquaculture.  Jim left the fisheries in 2015 after almost 40 years on the water and is living a life free of the dog eat dog, every-man for himself culture that pervaded Narragansett Bay as he moved on to more fulfilling work.  Free and Common has since become a unique website and perspective on the destruction of access to fishery resources by ‘the management’ and aquaculture. The management of shellfish in RI comes under the Shellfish Management Plan, or RISMP.

Jim now makes himself available for consulting on what happened to the U.S. fisheries, and how to move them from an every man for himself mentality to a peace through prosperity for all mentality. Jim’s work is truly outstanding and unique in its field of critical thinking.

Q: Why Free and Common.com?

A: Jim started Free and Common.com to give a voice to the people that could not speak up for themselves in the management process-and the RISMP. These people are fisherman that do not have the skills or abilities to expresses themselves in the public forums that pervade the management system, and the people of the state of RI who have no idea how Narragansett Bay has been mismanaged, and continues to be.  Most of the shell fish management in RI is focused on high priced shellfish such a little necks and oysters that are bound for high priced restaurants and trendy oyster bars. Jim’s point to the management and RISMP has always been that the average Rhode Islander, especially the single mom that is just trying to feed her children a nutritious, locally derived seafood meal such as big quahogs that have almost no value, cannot afford to buy high priced shellfish such as little necks and oysters, and their needs have been completely disregarded the management and the RISMP. The average Rhode Islander needs low priced ‘chowder quahogs’ that are very abundant and very low priced  in Narragansett Bay. This enormous and highly underutilized species that are known as Quahogs needs to be utilized and developed as THE only ‘buy local’ food in abundance all year round in RI. Remember, with wild fisheries-EVERY DAY IS HARVEST DAY!!!!

Q: How does NOAA Federal fisheries mismanagement affect the inshore/Bay (Bayman) fisherman that is state regulated? 

NOAA Federal fisheries management affects the inshore/Bay fisherman for a number of reasons.

1.The stranglehold NOAA fisheries regulations have on Federal waters, which are three miles and beyond state borders, pushes coastal fisherman that want to fish in coastal Federal waters inshore to state waters. These fisherman often fish on species they normally wouldn’t fish on. Pushing fisherman inshore causes territory wars with the Baymen that have no other place to go.

2.NOAA fisheries directives have dictated state management for years, especially by providing funding for disastrous management plans and schemes, which essentially bribe state regulators to take the easy way out and not defend the state rights of the people. Federal regulators also pressure state regulators by threatening to shut down state fisheries that do not comply with federal management schemes. For example, Rhode Island privatized their lobster fishery beginning in 2006, essentially giving control of lobsters in RI waters to federal regulators, with disastrous results. The RI lobster fishery ended up in the hands of the few, many of who thought their privatized lobster license was going to be their cushy retirement.  But, as nature has it-you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Soon after this disastrous scheme was initiated, federal regulators went after the sellouts that went along with the privatization schemes and were allowed to still fish by cutting them back in a number of ways. The RI inshore lobster fishery is essentially decimated, as are the communities they supported, thanks to federal management.

Q: What is it about aquaculture that Free and Common is so opposed to?

A: Jim was appointed to the board of the original aquaculture/public enhancement initiative in Narragansett Bay back in 1999-the Renew the Resources of The Bay Foundation-by the Ocean State Fishermen’s Association. Jim is not so much opposed to aquaculture as he is opposed to pumping millions of dollars into aquaculture that privatizes free and common resources as countless numbers of big quahogs that could be used to feed the citizens of RI lay in waste all over Narragansett Bay. This all happens as people in the state of RI, especially the single moms with kids that are just trying to feed their families a nutritious and healthy local meal go hungry, and the management resources are used to cater to the affluent and trendy.   Jim adeptly points to many specific instances of why aquaculture is inherently flawed on Free and Common, and why wild harvest that is well managed trumps man made aquaculture every time. With wild harvest, unlike aquaculture, where crops take perilous years to grow, beats aquaculture every time because with fishing, EVERY DAY IS HARVEST DAY !

Let the facts speak for themselves, and the public can vote with their dollars from there.

Copyright 2010-2019 Jim Russo. All rights reserved Photo credit above-Rob Russo Below-Anthony Russo