Murphy pushes for funding for NOAA lab in Milford

Milford Mirror

Today, in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s FY 2017 Budget Request, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to commit to maintaining robust funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides funding to the Milford Lab in Milford.

Murphy emphasized that the Milford Lab is one of just two NOAA labs nationwide dedicated to supporting the aquaculture research that drives Connecticut’s $30 million shellfish industry, supports over 300 local jobs, and helps improve ocean health.

“We’re really at the center of aquaculture research in the country with the Milford Lab,” Murphy said to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “As you know, 90% of the seafood that we consume in the United States today is imported, so we certainly have an interest in growing a domestic aquaculture industry…In Connecticut, we have 43 companies and 300 employees in this field that account for about $25 million in shellfish production alone, and that is growing. Aquaculture research is one of these triple wins in that you support a booming industry that’s creating jobs, you grow our knowledge base about ocean health and ocean acidification that can have spillover effects on our efforts to combat warming oceans, and then you of course increase the presence of, in our case, of shellfish, which improves water quality and habitats.”

According to a press release from Murphy, Secretary Pritzker responded, “We’re very much committed to the Milford Lab and the great work that the people are doing there. We’re also committed to our growing research in aquaculture. And in fact, in our budget, we ask for an additional $1.5 million to support that work because we recognize how important it is, and we also know that it is strongly supported by the east coast shellfish aquaculture industry.”

Murphy advocated for this investment after visiting the Milford Lab to learn about its role in supporting Connecticut’s aquaculture and shellfish industry.

Murphy listened to the funding needs and priorities of Connecticut’s aquaculture industry, and in response he said he helped secure $116 million for the Fisheries Management Program and Services and $140 million for the Fisheries and Ecosystem Science Program and Services For Fiscal Year 2016 as well as $6.3 million in dedicated aquaculture research funding. These funds will directly support the Milford Lab, he said.