Business

Hirono Continues Advocacy to Protect Sea Grant College Program

February 1, 2018, 2:33 PM HST
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Ahead of the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) urged the president to fund the National Sea Grant College Program at no less than current levels.

In a letter to President Trump (see below), the Senators highlighted the important role Sea Grant Programs play in boosting local economies and preserving coastal communities.

“Sea Grant is vital to local businesses and an important part of preserving coastal communities for generations to come,” wrote the Senators. “Sea Grant’s work supporting waterfront and maritime businesses speaks for itself. The federal investment in Sea Grant centers yields $611 million in economic benefit, an 825% return on federal investment. We encourage you to provide robust support for the program in your final Fiscal Year 2019 budget.”

Last year, in response to the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the Sea Grant program, Sen. Hirono led a bipartisan letter explaining how deep cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administers the Sea Grant College Program, would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states. Sen. Hirono’s successful advocacy helped to ensure the Trump cuts were rejected and that funding for the Sea Grant College Program continued. In July, Sen. Hirono announced that the University of Hawai‘i received more than $1 million in Sea Grant funding.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also signed the letter.

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The full text of the letter is below:

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

As you work to complete your final Fiscal Year 2019 budget, we urge you to fund the National Sea Grant College Program at no less than current levels. The National Sea Grant College Program is a federal-local partnership that funds 33 university-based research, extension, and education centers. These centers are results-driven and provide vital resources to local businesses and communities in our states.

Sea Grant’s work supporting waterfront and maritime businesses speaks for itself. The federal investment in Sea Grant centers yields $611 million in economic benefit, an 825% return on federal investment. This economic impact includes creating and sustaining 1,300 local businesses and 7,100 jobs. In 2016, Sea Grant helped 19,900 fishers adopt sustainable fishing practices and trained 2,002 people in safe seafood handling methods.

Sea Grant staff also assist communities with projects to become more resilient and preserve coastline habitat. In 2016, Sea Grant staff helped 300 communities improve coastal resiliency, aided 494 communities in adopting sustainable development practices, and supported 4,600 resource managers in using ecosystem-based management strategies. They also helped preserve or protect 1,400,000 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 781,000 K-12 students and in 2016 Sea Grant supported over 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students.

Sea Grant is vital to local businesses and an important part of preserving coastal communities for generations to come. We encourage you to provide robust support for the program in your final Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

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