Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced today that they have introduced a bipartisan Senate Resolution expressing support for the National Sea Grant College Program.The Senators highlighted the importance of the program to improving the health of coastal ecosystems and sustaining fisheries, and its large economic impact in coastal and Great Lakes communities. The Sea Grant program works in 31 states and two territories to create or sustain more than 20,000 jobs and 2,900 businesses annually, and in 2015, had an economic impact of $575,000,000 from an investment of $67,300,000—an 854-percent return on investment.
“The Sea Grant program is a textbook example of a smart and targeted investment in local communities that helps create economic growth,” said Merkley. “Our coastal communities are a key part of our economy in Oregon and numerous other states. At a time when coastal ecosystems and infrastructure are under unique stress from a changing climate, it would be a terrible idea to cut back on support that will help our communities adapt and continue to thrive and create jobs. This resolution makes clear that a strong bipartisan Senate coalition agrees about the vital importance of this program.”
“Sea Grant plays a vital role in Alaska and throughout our coastal communities, with the programs provided combining essential aspects of applied research, communication, extension, and education,” said Murkowski. “For more than four decades, the National Sea Grant programs have aided in spreading economic sustainability and environmental conservation of our nation’s bountiful marine resources. Last year alone, Alaska Sea Grant programs accomplished great things, from pioneering health research through a study documenting fisherman health habits and chronic health challenges in the fishing industry, to encouraging environmental literacy through our Alaska Seas and Watersheds school grants. I look forward to seeing that level of dedication to our local communities, continue.”
The President’s proposed budget would eliminate funding for the Sea Grant program. In contrast, the Senators’ Resolution expresses the sense of the Senate that the National Sea Grant College Program is “of vital importance to improving the economy, health, stewardship, and preparedness of the United States; an exceptional example of effective partnerships between Federal, State, and local governments; and a valuable investment for the Federal Government.”
In addition to Merkley and Murkowski, the Resolution is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).