DAY 1: Monday July 21, 2003
The North Cape Shellfish Restoration Project field site is based at the former Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Marine Fisheries Division in East Matunuk, RI. This is where I spent my first official day learning about the history of the project, the background of the North Cape oil spill and project coordinator, Karin Tami.
Karin Tami is the restoration coordinator of the NCSRP. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island earning a Masters degree is Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. Karin's thesis dealt with restoring bay scallops to an estuary in nearby Massachusetts. She was a co-owner of Rhode Island's first commercial shellfish hatchery. Her background experience and knowledge about bivalve mollusks is extensive and her willingness to share this information is extraordinary.
On January 19, 1996, the tank barge NORTH CAPE and the tug SCANDIA grounded on Moonstone Beach in southern Rhode Island spilling 828,000 gallons of home heating oil. The oil spread throughout a large area of Block Island Sound resulting in the closure of a 250-square mile area of the Sound for fishing. The damage to the organisms that make the fragile salt ponds tucked close to the southern coast of Rhode Island their home was extensive. More than one million crabs, shrimp, clams and oysters, and another half million fish were killed.
In 2000 a settlement was made between the United States and the State of Rhode Island with several responsible parties to compensate for injuries to natural resources following the massive oil spill. The agreement required that the defendants pay 8 million dollars to the natural resource trustees (Rhode Island Department of Environment Management, NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to replenish biomass and habitat.