Waterfront photos celebrate the Bristol fishing industry

A small, unique exhibit popped up recently on the Rockwell Park boardwalk

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 7/24/20

If you’ve recently walked the waterfront boardwalk through Rockwell Park, you probably noticed a series of framed photographs displayed along the seawall. Taken by PJ Russo, a Bristol …

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Waterfront photos celebrate the Bristol fishing industry

A small, unique exhibit popped up recently on the Rockwell Park boardwalk

Posted

If you’ve recently walked the waterfront boardwalk through Rockwell Park, you probably noticed a series of framed photographs displayed along the seawall. Taken by PJ Russo, a Bristol quahogger, and Tyler Murgo, a Bristol native and sometime-fisherman, the pictures depict scenes from the local commercial fishery.

It’s part of a statewide project launched by Eating with the Ecosystem, a small nonprofit dedicated to promoting a sustainable system of local wild seafood that supports the region’s marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them.

Kate Masury, Eating with the Ecosystem’s director and a Middletown resident, said the project first launched in Point Judith, where a Rhode Island Foundation-sponsored grant enabled the placement of 11 signs celebrating the commercial fishing fleet.

“We wanted to raise public awareness about this local resource that people may not think about as they are passing through on their way to hop on the Block Island Ferry,” Ms. Masury said.

She had the idea to expand the project, in some form, to other ports around Rhode Island with active commercial fishing fleets. There are now signs and/or images in Oakland Beach (Warwick), Newport, Westerly, East Greenwich, Sakonnet, and Wickford, as well as Bristol, with its “small but busy” fleet.

“I knew PJ, he had come to some of our events, and I knew he took great pictures,” Ms. Masury said. “I reached out to him, and he connected me to Tyler.”

Tyler Murgo lives in Westerly these days, where he works as the director of photography for Gnarly Bay Productions. A Bristol native and 2012 graduate of Mt. Hope High School, Tyler grew up in a family of commercial fishermen — his father and brother remain active in the local fleet — and when he came home in 2016 after spending some time living in the San Francisco Bay area, he joined them for a season. It was then that we was able to bring his love of photography and fishing together, and he created the images that he contributed to this exhibit.

Tyler continues to draw inspiration from fishing for his current day job with Gnarly Bay, which recently produced a film, “To the Surface,” which tells the story of the impact of Covid-19 on the local commercial fishery. The project won a Vimeo staff pic award, and Mr. Murgo hopes to screen it locally once Covid-related restrictions allow.

On the strength of the photography, Bristol’s exhibit is unlike the ones in the other communities — here, the pictures speak for themselves. “Few words, big images,” said Ms. Masury. “They’re such beautiful photographs.”

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