A Message from Penny Dalton,
April 14, 2017
Today, the future of Washington Sea Grant is in jeopardy. The current Administration has announced that it will seek to eliminate federal funding for the entire national Sea Grant program—an amount totaling $73 million—from its Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Earlier this month the situation became even more serious when the White House proposed to cut $30 million in program funding from this year’s budget—which would end the Sea Grant program almost immediately.
Eighty percent of Washington residents live along the state’s 3,000-mile coastline and depend on healthy, productive marine and watershed ecosystems. For nearly 50 years, Washington Sea Grant has helped people understand, conserve and prosper from our state’s rich marine resources.
Between 2011 and 2015 alone, we delivered $49.1 million in services and economic benefits to coastal communities in Washington. We accomplished that by engaging nearly half a million coastal residents, scientists, boaters, fishermen, shellfish growers, managers and students. Marine and coastal businesses depend on us to fund important research, provide technical assistance and train new entrants in the state’s maritime workforce. Program highlights are illustrated in this two-page fact sheet.
Washington Sea Grant is one of 33 state Sea Grant programs around our nation’s coastlines, working together to create or sustain more than 20,000 jobs and 2,900 businesses annually, and providing a return in 2015 of more than eight dollars for every federal dollar invested. By staying attuned to regional environmental issues and delivering on coastal residents’ needs, these state programs have earned broad-based support that has continued through many cycles of political change in Washington, D.C.
We have been in contact with members of the Washington Congressional delegation who know and support the work of Washington Sea Grant, and they have responded. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell joined 24 Senators in introducing the bipartisan Senate Resolution 124 to express support for the National Sea Grant College Program. The legislation highlights Sea Grant’s importance in improving the health of coastal ecosystems and sustaining fisheries and its large economic impact in coastal and Great Lakes communities. Representatives Smith, DelBene, Jayapal and Heck were among 95 signatories on a letter to Congressional appropriators urging their support.
While this is great news, the funding process is far from complete and several Congressional offices were interested in hearing from Washington Sea Grant’s partners and constituents. I encourage you to contact your U.S. Senate and House members to let them know about your experience with Washington Sea Grant and to tell them your concerns regarding the Administration’s proposal to end the program.
Please consider letting us know if you have contacted any of the delegation by sending us a copy of your letter or email.
Thank you for your support of Washington Sea Grant. We look forward to continuing to serve you and your community!
Contacting the Washington Delegation
For the House of Representatives, you can find the names of members of Congress and contact information at http://www.house.gov/representatives.
For the Senate, you may search the following site: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.
Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. www.wsg.washington.edu.