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Scott Olszewski

Deputy Chief of Marine Fisheries 

"Molly! I should have told you, it's Hawaiian Shirt Friday!” shouts Scott Olszewski, the Deputy Chief of Marine Fisheries, as he walks towards me in his colorful shirt. He stands out on a gray June morning as we leave Fort Wetherill aboard the John H. Chafee to conduct the coastal trawl survey.

In every word Scott says, I can tell this work is his passion, his culture, and his purpose. As a Rhode Island native who grew up fishing and hunting with his father and grandfather, it was only natural Scott gravitated towards working with RIDEM. His career started when he volunteered at the Lafayette Trout Hatchery in high school. From there he worked as a deck hand on a lobster boat while he studied fisheries at the University of Rhode Island. Scott noted, “I didn’t want to be a commercial fisherman, but I loved being on the water and working with [them].” He would volunteer his remaining time aboard the NOAA vessel Albatross for trawl survey cruises.

His first job at RIDEM was with the Division of Fish and Wildlife working as a seasonal laborer and then full-time habitat enhancement and pheasant stocking programs. In 1995, his experience as a deck hand secured him a job working as a fisheries biologist studying lobster. Over time, he expanded his research to include small vessel projects, creating the dive survey program, expanding the horseshoe crab survey which now informs the Horseshoe Management Plan, and becoming an integral part of the Marine Mammal Take Reduction team. This was the niche for him; he wanted to be involved in everything he could, or as he put it, “to know something about everything.” His proudest work was carrying on the legacy of the coastal trawl survey, which has been running since 1979.He said, “I never missed a trawl unless it was really out of my hands.” Scott’s work has created the largest species data set that is now used by managers and academia

His current role requires him to use over 20 years of experience to make informed decisions that help the fishing industry at the New England Fishery Management Council. He’s trying to develop management programs that allow businesses to be profitable while protecting the resources. Aside from climate change and species movement, one of the biggest challenges he sees for the industry is mandates to end overfishing. “Sometimes, these can be unrealistic,” he says cautiously, “there are certain mandates under Magnuson to end overfishing but will have a big impact on [fishing] communities.” He noted that there must be a compromise with rebuilding stock and keeping fishermen and fishing businesses functioning. Looking forward, Scott would like to see programs that are ecosystem driven. We need to adjust fisheries that are no longer profitable and incentivize younger individuals to start fishing businesses. He would like to see more programs that allow fishermen the flexibility to move from one fishery to the next, increase efficiencies (like multi-state limits), and flexible management programs. There is no doubt that if Scott has any involvement in these programs, they will be successful. To Scott “this is not just a career but a lifestyle.”

                                                                                                    -MOLLY OGREN

Favorite Marine Species: His heart will always be in lobster, horseshoe crab is a close second

What Species Should be Marketed: Scup! We have a large quota for RI and an industry capable of targeting it.

Favorite Seafood Restaurant: His own back yard!

Favorite Recipe: Baked Atlantic Cod

Advice for Students: Timing is everything. Work in all the conditions you can, show your your dedication & commitment and there will always be an opportunity for you – when the time is right.

What to expect

  • Monthly projections of available species
  • Seafood finder map with listed participants updates
  • Fishline App
  • Additional marketing materials and toolkit
  • Recipes
  • Highlights, profiles & more

Upcoming events

Charlestown Seafood Festival:  August 5-7

RI Seafood Festival: September 10-11

Calamari Festival: September 10 

Ocean State Oyster Fest: September 25

Bowen' Wharf Seafood Fest: October 15


The seafood marketing campaign is live and we are pleased to report that we have over 40 participants signed up to take part! We are in the process of delivering marketing supplies and materials as they become available, if you have received material and require more, please do not hesitate to ask. Simultaneously, we are working on additional materials and we will distribute them as they are made available.

We love seeing the window clings in your windows and spotting ice picks in your seafood display cases! This is helping consumers look for the sign where they shop and dine! Check our social media for updates/ highlights and send us photos or tag us to be featured/ promoted through the campaign. #riseafood #findyourfresh

We are looking for additional fishers and aquaculturists to take part in our fisher profile series, if you are/know a fisher/grower who would like to participate, please contact Jordyn at the information given below.

Keep an eye out for our new seasonality magnet shown below!

View the RI Seafood Finder


C: (619) 278-8275

RI Seafood Marketing Collaborative Website

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