Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI)

The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI) addresses critical issues related to Massachusetts fisheries and fishing communities. MFI fosters a cooperative working relationship among scientists, government, fishermen, and environmentalists. 

Led by the scientists at the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, MFI promotes scientifically based management approaches to sustain a vital food source and support this important marine industry.

Research Initiatives

The MFI’s research program has been supported by both state and federal agencies and includes: 

  • cooperative cod and yellowtail tagging
  • development of a fisheries management decision support system
  • lobster surveys
  • scallop video survey
  • trawl study fleet program
  • water quality assessment in Buzzards Bay

Industry Leadership

The MFI organizes scientific and stakeholder meetings and workshops

  • “End-to-End Review of New England Groundfish Stock Assessments” produced recommendations to improve the scientific basis of management for groundfish fisheries
  • The Fisheries Summit explained the state of the region’s marine fisheries for stakeholders and a strategy for moving forward

Educational Purpose

Graduate study: There is a growing need for marine scientists in federal and state agencies as well as universities. SMAST’s Department of Fisheries Oceanography graduate students and professors work directly with scientists from the Division of Marine Fisheries and local fishermen. This unique, hands-on educational experience prepares graduate students for a future in the dynamic profession of fisheries science.

K-12: MFI also promotes marine education at earlier educational levels. Outreach ranges from one-day presentations in elementary and middle school classrooms to a semester-long internship program for high school seniors. By giving students the opportunity to explore topics such as scallop growth or marine engineering, an early interest in marine science is fostered.

About MFI

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has long had one of the most valuable commercial fishing industries in the nation. The state's recreational fishing industry has expanded enormously and is now ranked as the second most valuable in the country.

Together, the commercial and recreational marine economies employ more than 80,000 people in Massachusetts and contribute close to $2 billion to the economy. Hence, Massachusetts has suffered more than most states in recent decades from the one-two punch of decreasing fish stocks and ever more restrictive regulations.

On November 4, 2002, the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs and the President of the University of Massachusetts jointly signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that established the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI).

In 2013, an updated MOA between the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) was signed reaffirming the partnership between the University of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth in fisheries research and education. It designated the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) and DMF as the lead organizations.

The 2013 MOA also describes the formation of an Advisory Council “consisting of individuals with expertise appropriate to the MFI mission and appointed from faculty and academic leadership in the University of Massachusetts system and from stakeholder groups with interest in the mission of the MFI.”

The MFI continues to deal with critical issues related to Massachusetts fisheries and fishing communities. It seeks to develop scientifically based, innovative, and practical fisheries management applications that contribute to the understanding, management, economic growth, and sustainability of our oceans and the communities that border the ocean.

The MFI Advisory Council guides the institute in accomplishing its goals. The members of the council include faculty and academic leaders within the UMass system as well as external experts and professionals from stakeholder groups with interests in the MFI mission.

 Advisory Council

Brian Rothschild (Chair)
President and CEO, Center for Sustainable Fisheries; Emeritus Professor, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 

Ramprasad Balasubramanian
College of Engineering
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

John Bullard
NOAA Fisheries

C. M. "Rip" Cunningham
recreational fisheries

Roy Enoksen
Eastern Fisheries



Vito Giacalone

Steve Goodwin College of Natural Sciences
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Robyn Hannigan
School for the Environment
University of Massachusetts Boston

Eric Hansen
Hansen Scalloping Inc.
F/V Endeavor

William Karp
NOAA Fisheries 

James Kendall
New Bedford Seafood Consulting


Jake Kritzer
Environmental Defense Fund

Frank Mirarchi
Fishing Captain
F/V owner

Ken Oliveira
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Michael Orbach
Emeritus Professor
Duke University

John Quinn
New England Fishery Management Council
University of Massachusetts School of Law


Executive Committee

Steven Lohrenz
School for Marine Science and Technology,
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 
David Pierce
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Education Director 
Steven Cadrin
School for Marine Science and Technology
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Research Director 
Kevin Stokesbury
School for Marine Science and Technology
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Distinguished Senior Scientist 
Michael Sissenwine
New England Fishery Management Council
Adjunct, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution