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CRMC aquaculture coordinator to retire
June 30, 2020, WAKEFIELD – The Coastal Resources Management Council’s Aquaculture Coordinator David Beutel is retiring at the end of June after serving for more than a decade as the CRMC’s fisheries and aquaculture expert, as well as its liaison between the fishing industry and the wind farm projects in process in Rhode Island and surrounding waters.
As a former University of Rhode Island Fisheries Extension Specialist and Fisheries Operations Supervisor, Beutel offered the CRMC a specialized skill set when he began his work in April 2009, managing the state’s aquaculture industry, all lease applications, CRMC aquaculture regulations, and all of the personalities and politics that came with the job.
Beutel worked with members of the industry, the wild harvesters, the cities and towns, and worked with the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University to coordinate aquaculture research and management with the institutions. He also streamlined the CRMC’s aquaculture permitting process, developed and implemented the “Five Percent Rule” capping the percentage of aquaculture farms in the state’s salt ponds, and educated the public on the environmental benefits of aquaculture, as well as aquaculturists on shellfish diseases, best practices, and new gear technology. Beutel spent time meeting with aquaculture growers, objectors, interested members of the press, and anyone who was eager to learn more.
“Balancing user conflicts, abutters’ concerns, the needs and requests of applicants, and the regulations of the CRMC was a skill not many exhibit, and we’ll miss Dave for his ability to be the voice of reason,” said CRMC Chair Jennifer Cervenka. “The Council wishes him well on this next chapter, and thanks him for his service.”
Beutel received both an Associate of Science degree in fisheries and marine technology from URI in 1979, and a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries in 1992. He had worked in the fishing industry since 1977, including seven years as a commercial fisherman and eight years as a fishing gear manufacturer. He worked in fisheries outreach and research for Rhode Island Sea Grant from 1992 until he began at the CRMC.
He worked closely with Rhode Island’s commercial fishing industry during the development of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which provided a regulatory and policy framework for the CRMC to permit the nation’s first offshore wind farm off Block Island. Beutel maintained that working relationship with the members of the Ocean SAMP’s Fisherman’s Advisory Board (FAB) which heard subsequent wind development projects, some of which have been contentious and complicated.
Beutel collaborated on the research effort to assess the impacts of the Block Island Wind Farm on recreational saltwater fishing organized by URI and Rhode Island Sea Grant. He served as a member of the General Assembly’s Special Legislative Commission to Study the Effects of Ocean Acidification on RI. In 2013 the State of Delaware invited Beutel down to visit them and teach them how to develop and establish their own aquaculture program.
“CRMC has been a fascinating place to work in addressing marine spatial planning concerns for both aquaculture and wind power,” Beutel said. “The CRMC leadership has been strong and the cooperation encouraging.”