MURPHY LEADS BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO REJECT PROPOSED ELIMINATION OF FUNDING FOR NATIONAL SEA GRANT PROGRAM RELIED ON BY UCONN AFTER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED CUTS

WASHINGTON — After the Trump administration proposed eliminating its funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday led the effort to preserve funding for the National Sea Grant College Program. Murphy led a bipartisan group of 26 senators in sending a letter to U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, requesting the program be funded at least current levels next year and recognizing stakeholder requests for increased funding. Murphy successfully led a similar effort last year that resulted in increased federal funding for the program. 

Connecticut’s Sea Grant College Program at UConn Avery Point relies on funding through the National Sea Grant College Program to support sustainable fishing, improve coastal resiliency, and combat climate change, all while bolstering local jobs.  

“We urge you to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the National Sea Grant College program (Sea Grant). We are grateful that the committee included an increase for this program in FY 2019, particularly as the increase was given in a challenging budget environment,” wrote the senators. “As senators from some of the states with Sea Grant programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students. Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program.”

The following senators joined Murphy in sending the letter: U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

The full text of letter is available here and below:

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As you work to draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, we urge you to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the National Sea Grant College program (Sea Grant). We are grateful that the committee included an increase for this program in FY 2019, particularly as the increase was given in a challenging budget environment. For FY 2020, we continue to support at least the current funding level of $80 million, of which $12 million is the Marine Aquaculture Program, for Sea Grant. Furthermore, we are aware that the Sea Grant Association has recommended $93.5 million in funding to carry out their important work. 

As senators from some of the states with Sea Grant programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students.  Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program. 

Sea Grant’s work supporting waterfront and maritime businesses speaks for itself. The federal investment in Sea Grant programs yields $579 million in economic benefit, a 793% return on federal investment. This economic impact includes creating and sustaining 2,500 local businesses and 12,500 jobs. In 2017, Sea Grant has helped 17,800 fishers adopt sustainable fishing practices and trained 2,000 people in safe seafood handling methods.

Sea Grant staff also assist communities with projects to become more resilient and preserve coastline habitat. In 2017, Sea Grant staff helped 462 communities improve coastal resiliency, and supported 4,634 resource managers in using ecosystem-based management strategies. They also helped preserve or protect 710,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Finally, Sea Grant is helping to educate the next generation of freshwater and marine scientists. Last year, Sea Grant programs reached 798,000 K-12 students and in 2017 Sea Grant supported over 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students. 

 Sea Grant is vital to local businesses and an important part of preserving coastal communities for generations to come. We continue to support robust funding for Sea Grant at a minimum of the current funding level of $80 million, of which $12 million is the Marine Aquaculture Program, and acknowledge the recommendations of up to $93.5 million in funding.

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