At the Town Dock, House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, Narragansett Town Council PresidentJames Callaghan and Janet Coit, Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, joined Governor Lincoln Chafee who today signed legislation into law that establishes Rhode Island-style calamari as the state’s official appetizer.
“Promotion of our multi-million dollar squid industry will help our fishing, hospitality and tourism interests in Rhode Island, all of which serve as integral parts of our economy. ‘Rhode Island-style calamari’ is on menus in many other states and allows us to draw attention to one of our unique assets,” Speaker Mattiello said. “The calamari bill may not rise to the degree of importance that some of our other economic initiatives have, such as lowering our corporate tax and enacting regulatory reform, but it is possible to market our assets and address pressing issues at the same time.”
Rhode Island-style calamari, which is squid rings fried and tossed with hot cherry peppers, is served and enjoyed nationwide. By supporting our region’s harvested seafood, the Governor believes that this legislation works to bring even more tourists to Rhode Island’s docks and eateries, and will assist in the marketing and promotional efforts for locally produced seafood and goods such as our many fisheries, restaurants and small businesses.
“So much of what we hear or read about Rhode Island is negative,” said Representative McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick,Cranston), who introduced the House bill proposing the new state appetizer (2014-H 7446A). “We need to start promoting the good and wonderful things about our state. And, while squid may make some people squeamish, we should be boasting about the fact thatRhode Island is the East Coast capital of squid, and that our style of preparing it is being used by chefs across the country.”
“It is the juxtaposition of two things – that squid is the state’s most valuable commercial fishery and that a cuisine distinctive to Rhode Island is served and enjoyed around the country – that make this special to our state, something to call our own,” said Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), sponsor of the Senate bill (2014-S 2398A). “As a South Countylegislator and chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture, I recognize how fortunate our state is because of the fishing industry and believe we cannot do enough to promote that important aspect of our state’s economy.”
Rhode Island’s commercial squid fishery numbers about 125 vessels. In 2012, those vessels landed about 23.5 million pounds of squid. The direct value of those landings – the price paid to fishermen – totaled about $18.6 million, which makes squid our most valuable commercial fishery.
“While the state designation for RI-style calamari is in many ways fun and lighthearted, it highlights Rhode Island’s most valuable commercial fishery, and that’s important! More squid are landed in Rhode Island than in any other state along the Atlantic Seaboard,” Janet Coit, Director of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management, said. “This isn’t just about marketing a delicious and popular dish, locally and around the globe. By celebrating calamari, we support jobs and the long-term prosperity of our commercial fishing industry, and the many businesses associated with it – from harvesters, net-makers and processors, to stores and restaurants.”
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