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NOAA's Sea Grant Program on Trump's Chopping Block

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Employees of the Matunuck Oyster Bar farm at work on Potters Pond in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, Photo credit: Sea Grant

By Mandy Sackett

As has been reported, the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), budget. Included in those cuts is the complete elimination of the Sea Grant program.


As a former California Sea Grant fellow with the California Natural Resources Agency, I take personal offense to this assault. The fellowship program has been invaluable to me, giving me a vital role in the state's efforts to address marine litter and waste management issues, teaching me to critically evaluate and craft policy solutions, as well as how to interpret and translate science for policy and communications.

Sea Grant's state and federal fellowships provide recent graduates with an opportunity to participate in research and policy using a science-based approach. The program trains the next generation of decision makers and policy professionals to ensure balanced management of our marine resources.

California Sea Grant and University of Southern California Sea Grant programs are both highly successful beyond the state fellowship program. Check out some of their accomplishments here:

Indeed, the fellowship program is only a small fraction of the vital work that the Sea Grant program contributes nationwide each year.

For 50 years, Sea Grant has been at the forefront of creating economic opportunities, enhancing food and water security, and reducing risks from natural hazards and extreme events facing coastal communities through research and outreach efforts. Sea Grant's research has been critical to making smart decisions about how we manage, protect, and use the resources from our nation's coastal, marine, and Great Lakes environments.

In fiscal year 2015-16 alone, Sea Grant used its $67.3 million federal appropriation to generate an estimated $575 million in economic impacts around the country; created or sustained nearly 21,000 jobs and almost 3,000 businesses; helped 534 coastal communities implement sustainable development practices or policies so they are more resilient to hazards like flooding and hurricanes; and helped more than 40,000 fishermen adopt sustainable harvesting techniques.

Sea Grant is a key partner in:

  • developing sufficient capabilities to sustain ocean-based economies;
  • growing our marine food sector;
  • diversifying our energy sources;
  • protecting critical ocean and coastal infrastructure and related natural resources;
  • and training the next generation of scientists, managers, and stakeholders.

These are all necessary components of a more resilient ocean, coastal and Great Lakes. For more information, check out some of Sea Grant's national-level accomplishments.

Let's make our voices heard and make sure Sea Grant is here to stay! Here are four simple steps you can take to help save this important program:

1. Spread the word—share this blog with your friends and family on social media.

2. Join the Surfrider Foundation and support our efforts to #SaveNOAA.

3. Volunteer at a local chapter and get involved!

4. Contact your representatives—a quick phone call is best! Find your representative's contact information here. Here are a few talking points you can use:

  • I'm calling today to let (elected official) know that I oppose the president's proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), specifically the elimination of the Sea Grant program.
  • Sea Grant directly contributes to job creation and economic development, the core functions of the Department of Commerce.
  • Federal funding of Sea Grant goes a long way. Each dollar Sea Grant receives in federal funds is multiplied threefold through strategic partnerships with academic and grant funders.
  • I personally value (name Sea Grant program or service that is important to you). (Click here for more information about Sea Grant's workshops, trainings and programs in your area.)
  • Again, I urge (elected official) to maintain funding for Sea Grant in NOAA's 2017 and 2018 budgets. Thank you for your time.

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