Sea Grant funding on chopping block

Sea Grant exists to create a federal-local partnership through 33 university-based programs. Its staff is tasked with providing integrated research, communication, education, extension and legal programs to coastal communities, including the Great Lakes. The organization often unites diverse stakeholders—elected officials, scholars and industry—to partner in determining science-based solutions to environmental, social and economic challenges.

In the president’s proposed FY2018 “skinny budget,” Sea Grant is not funded. With Congress making final decisions regarding the budget, the future of the Great Lakes programs—Minnesota Sea Grant, Wisconsin Sea Grant and the National Sea Grant College Program—are yet to be determined.

Because of the effective work of the regional Sea Grant programs, executives from the Great Lakes shipping industry are sending letters to Congress asking the program be funded in the final budget.

“As constituents and beneficiaries of the research, education and outreach of Minnesota Sea Grant, Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, we encourage you to ask the appropriations committee to fund the National Sea Grant College Program at a level that maintains them as an effective scientific institution focused on delivery of enduring, science-based solutions to immediate, multivariate problems (estimated at $80 million in FY18),” said Vanta Coda, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in a letter.

Examples of Sea Grant’s regional impact include:

  • Contributing to the Great Lakes Ballast Water Collaborative, a group of private and public stakeholders which helped political divisions in the U.S. and Canada recognize that regulatory standards must be coordinated to achieve effective environmental protection and continued shipping
  • Being instrumental in developing a science-based state policy position that dredged material can be re-used in habitat restoration projects

Maritime Editorial