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Budget Blowback

by Norris Comer

budget cutsFederal Sea Grant Elimination Proposed by White House Budget

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is among the many targets of funding cuts from the recently proposed federal budget out of the White House. According to the Washington Post, the premier climate science agency may see cuts on the order of 17% if the proposed budget is passed, as well as the elimination of the $73-million Sea Grant program.

Sea Grant supports coastal research and maritime education conducted through 33 universities across the country, and Washington Sea Grant of the University of Washington is an active member. We have reported on their successes often in this very publication, from pump out infrastructure improvements, successful public maritime workshops offered, oil and gas spill mitigation efforts, environmental causes, and more.

The Washington Sea Grant of the College of the Environment of the University of Washington has released its official statement on the new budget on March 6, 2017, and it is as follows:

Sea Grant has enjoyed the bipartisan support of the Congress and White House for most of its 50-year history – because it is a program that works. With 33 programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, today Sea Grant returns at least $8 in economic benefits for every federal dollar appropriated. It brings businesses, academia, governments, tribes, and citizens together to address today’s tough marine issues and ensure the vitality and health of coastal communities and resources for tomorrow.”

Here in Washington State, Sea Grant reaches more than 100,000 residents annually with innovative research and effective education and technical advice. Based at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, Washington Sea Grant supports local businesses and communities providing nearly $9 million in economic benefits. The program supplies unbiased scientific information for living and working sustainably along Washington shores and to enhance and protect marine resources in the Pacific Northwest.

Sea Grant continues to thrive with strong industry and community support. For example, Margaret Pilaro Barrette, Executive Director, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association states, “Shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters and geoduck) are highly sought after regionally, domestically and internationally. Sea Grant programs provide vital research, technical assistance, and outreach that allow this industry to grow, while providing family-wage jobs in some of our most economically distressed communities.

Our challenge today is to educate the new leaders in Washington, D.C. to ensure that they recognize Sea Grant’s contributions and unmatched value to coastal businesses and residents.

We at Northwest Yachting are curious as to your thoughts, so feel free to send them at editorial@nwyachting.com.

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