Fact Sheet and Background                     

The National Sea Grant College Program was launched in 1966 as a federal investment in our oceans and coasts, building upon university strengths in the ocean sciences, engineering, and policy. In 1971 the University of Washington (UW) became one of the first four institutions nationwide to be designated as a Sea Grant College.

Today Washington Sea Grant (WSG) identifies, addresses, and funds important marine issues, shares its expertise with coastal businesses and communities, provides tools for the management of ocean and coastal resources, and engages the public in protecting and sustainably using those resources. Based at the UW College of the Environment, WSG is part of a national network of 33 Sea Grant programs that is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and funded through federal-university partnerships. Regionally, it has developed strategic partnerships with many local, state, tribal, and regional entities, including the Puget Sound Partnership, state resource agencies, NOAA’s Western Region offices and research laboratories and the five other Pacific Sea Grant programs.


WSG-sponsored research seeks to build the knowledge and tools needed to strengthen the sustainable use of marine resources while preserving and, when necessary, restoring a healthy marine environment. It combines scientific excellence, rigorous review, and close attention to the challenges facing those who live along Washington’s coasts and work and play on its waters. To ensure that research findings reach this wider audience, each project includes a plan for engaging potential users in its outcomes.

WSG research focuses on four areas that broadly align with the critical missions identified in the WSG 2014-2018 strategic plan:

  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture: facilitate sustainable use of living marine resources through science-based management and environmentally and economically responsible approaches.
  • Healthy Coastal Ecosystems: understand ocean and coastal environments and advance ecosystem based approaches to manage, protect and restore natural resources.
  • Resilient Communities and Economies: build capacity for coastal communities that are economically vibrant, environmentally healthy and resilient to hazards and climate change.
  • Ocean Literacy and Workforce Development: educate learners of all ages and strengthen workforce capacity.

Advisory Services

WSG’s mission is to provide scientific and technical information for use by coastal and marine communities. WSG helps Washington’s marine workforce grow and develop the skills it needs to compete through training, special workshops, and the development of new tools and technologies. WSG specialists based at UW and in field offices throughout western Washington provide technical assistance and connect governments, tribes, marine businesses, and coastal residents to the best scientific information available. WSG staff share university resources and their own expertise in a wide range of fields, including water quality, ocean acidification, aquaculture, fisheries management and bycatch prevention, citizen science, habitat restoration, invasive species control, algal bloom monitoring, oil spill and other pollution prevention, maritime safety, coastal development, community sustainability, and hazard resilience.


WSG helps learners of all ages understand how the ocean affects them and how they affect the ocean. Intensive summer science camps for middle and high school students and a popular statewide ocean sciences bowl whet youthful curiosity and commitment, encouraging students to pursue marine-related careers. A wide range of fellowship, internship, and research programs provide undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students with real-world experience in marine science, policy, and resource management. Many work on issues of regional and national importance in state and federal resource agencies and on congressional staffs.


WSG disseminates its research findings, shares technological and operational innovations, and engages the public, press, government, industry, educators, and community organizations in the sustainable use of marine resources through a wide range of communications media. These include: books, reports, pamphlets, newsletters and other print publications; news releases and targeted media outreach; a comprehensive website and extensive publications database; Facebook, Twitter and other social media; public exhibits; and direct engagement, on both land and water, at festivals, trade fairs, boating gatherings, and other events.


Based at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant provides statewide marine research, outreach, and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.