News Bites: RI DEM License for Direct Seafood Sales / Ocean State Coalition Letter to Diners / Delta Dental “Share a Smile” Restaurant Gift Card Campaign

by David Dadekian
Published: Updated:

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.

New Temporary License Allows Commercial Fishermen To Sell Certain Types Of Seafood Directly To Consumers, Retailers

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

To help foster the continued viability of the Rhode Island commercial seafood industry during the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has enacted a new, no-cost Direct Sale Dealer License. It authorizes commercial fishermen in Rhode Island to sell certain species of finfish, and to sell and transport for sale live lobsters and crabs, directly to consumers and licensed seafood retailers from the vessel on which they were harvested.

“There is a growing demand for local seafood during this critical time, and we’re fortunate that our commercial harvesters are able to meet the needs of residents with the abundant seafood resources available off our coast,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Rhode Islanders can take pride in knowing that when they purchase fresh local seafood, at local retailers or right off the boat from harvesters, they are helping to keep a vital part of our economy – our commercial fishing and seafood industry – up and running.”

The new license, enacted via an emergency regulation filed on April 17, helps address the economic hardships facing the RI commercial fishing and seafood industry, as well as food insecurities facing many RI consumers, caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The new direct-sale opportunity supports the development of new, local supply chains for RI seafood. As an emergency regulation, the measure will remain in effect for up to 120 days.

DEM developed the emergency regulation in close collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). It preserves the existing rules for molluscan shellfish and certain species of finfish that require special handling, which must continue to be sold by harvesters to licensed seafood wholesalers.

Under the new Direct Sale Dealer License, finfish species subject to direct sale include any legally harvested species, except striped bass, and except all “histamine-producing” finfish species, which are listed in the regulation.  For eligible species of finfish, the new license authorizes their dockside sale directly to consumers and licensed retail establishments, such as seafood markets and restaurants. Examples of eligible finfish species include: summer flounder, black sea bass, scup, tautog, monkfish, hake, haddock, cod, winter flounder, weakfish, dogfish, skate, and butterfish.

While dockside sales of live lobsters and crabs to consumers have been allowed for many years, and remain authorized under the existing dockside sales endorsement, the new Direct Sale Dealer License extends this opportunity to include dockside sales to retail establishments, as well as the transport and sale of live lobsters and crabs to consumers and retailers.

The new license is available, at no cost, to resident commercial fishermen in RI licensed to harvest finfish and/or crustaceans.  Upon obtaining the new license, fishermen may engage in direct sales, subject to several requirements governing harvest, handling, reporting, and sale activities. The requirements include:

  • All direct sales must strictly adhere to all applicable health and safety directives governing customer-facing food businesses, including social distancing, preventing customers from congregating at or near the point of sale, and the wearing of face coverings. Drive-up dockside sales are strongly encouraged – and required in Galilee.
  • All direct-sale activities must be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable municipal laws, as well as applicable regulations and polices governing port and marina operations.
  • Direct sales of finfish are applicable only to whole fish, fish that are headed/gutted, or live fish. Direct sales are applicable only to fish that have been caught/harvested the same day. While on board the vessel, all fish must be kept shaded, cooled, and/or on ice.
  • Lobsters and crabs must be kept shaded and cooled and must be alive at point of sale.
  • For all species subject to sale pursuant to the new Dealer License, strict reporting requirements must be met.  Harvester reports must be completed in full and be available for inspection prior to any species being sold. In addition, all sales must be reported to DEM in accordance with standard electronic dealer reporting requirements.

DEM had developed detailed guidance governing authorization and use of the new license, including best practices to keep fishermen, their crew, and their customers healthy and safe during direct-sale activities. The guidance is available here:

Applications for the new license may be submitted electronically, via this link:

The emergency regulations are available here:

DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and RIDOH. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here:

The Ocean State Coalition

To Our Guests,

On behalf of the hundreds of restaurants across the state of Rhode Island please let us begin by saying we deeply miss seeing you. Our daily lives have changed so much in the last two months since restaurants in our state were ordered closed for dining in. The restaurant business is not simply about the meal, wine or your favorite cocktail. It is more about romance, family, friendships, creating memories, and the ability to bring us all together as a community.

Restaurants support a tremendous amount of small, as well as large, businesses through our daily needs. Up to 90% of the money independent restaurants earn goes right back into our communities, through payroll, vendors, rent and many more services. We know how much our restaurants are loved in Rhode Island as we have the most restaurants per capita nationwide. We offer a diverse, vibrant and delicious culinary scene that has become world renowned.

The restaurant industry has been one of the most severely impacted by the closures related to Covid-19. We have done all that has been asked of us to help flatten the curve. Many of us are now doing all we can to get by while helping our team members and our community at the same time. Takeout, delivery, and outdoor seating with reduced capacities will not sustain us for long.

We are one of the most regulated industries for health standards and our goal has always been to exceed those standards for our guests. For this reason, we are asking you our guests to support us in our request for opening indoor dining by June 1, 2020. The very existence of what our restaurant community will look like depends on us being more creative than ever now. However, we must be allowed this opportunity to serve you to the best of our abilities within the new restrictions from the Department of Health.

All of us love what we do. The memories we have shared and created with all of you is the core of our being. We are ready to welcome you back in a safe, comfortable, enjoyable and delicious way.

Download the PDF of the letter and view the over 200 signed restaurants (this PDF will be updated as more restaurants sign on):

The Ocean State Coalition letter To Our Guests

Delta Dental of Rhode Island launches ‘Share a Smile’ campaign to spread positivity and support local restaurants

When we think about what makes us smile, a meal with family and friends at one of Rhode Island’s great local restaurants often tops the list. And while COVID-19 prevents us from doing that right now, Delta Dental of Rhode Island has launched a new way to support your favorite local restaurant and treat yourself and your family to something delicious.

The company’s new #Share a Smile campaign asks Rhode Islanders to share the names of restaurants that make them smile for a chance to win a $50 gift card to the Rhode Island restaurant of their choice. Here’s how to enter:

  • Go to the Delta Dental of Rhode Island Facebook page and look for the #Share a Smile post of the week. 
  • Comment on the post and tag your favorite Rhode Island restaurant

All commenters who tag a Rhode Island restaurant are entered into a random drawing for a $50 gift card to the restaurant they’ve tagged. Delta Dental will randomly select multiple winners each week during this campaign. In total, Delta Dental of Rhode Island’s efforts in 2020 will provide Rhode Island restaurants with more than $20,000 of support. 

“We’re so proud of the positivity we see throughout Rhode Island, and we developed this campaign to honor and encourage that positivity while supporting our local restaurants, who are critical to the state’s economy,” said Joseph R. Perroni, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Rhode Island. “For a company dedicated to supporting healthy smiles, encouraging people to share theirs and to share their love for local restaurants was a natural fit.”

“The Rhode Island business community benefits when we pull together to support each other, and we are excited to see all the creative ways that businesses are supporting each other to mitigate financial impacts of this crisis.,” Perroni said.

Learn more about the #Share a Smile campaign by visiting For a roundup of weekly winners, follow Delta Dental of Rhode Island on Facebook at @Delta Dental of RI.

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