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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Senators Back National Sea Grant Program

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski have introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution expressing the support of the Senate for the National Sea Grant College Program.

The resolution, with 24 co-sponsors, highlights the importance of the program to improving the health of coastal ecosystems, sustaining fisheries and its economic impact in 31 states and two territories. President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate funding for the Sea Grant College program.

Merkley called the Sea Grant Program “a textbook example of a smart and targeted investment in local communities that helps create economic growth. Our coastal communities are a key part of our economy in Oregon and numerous other states.”

“At a time when coastal ecosystems and infrastructure are under unique stress from a changing climate, it would be a terrible idea to cut back on support that will help our communities adapt and continue to thrive and create jobs,” he said.

Sea Grant plays a vital role in Alaska and throughout the state’s coastal communities, with the programs combining essential aspects of applied research, communication, extension and education, Murkowski said.

“For more than four decades, the National Sea Grant programs have aided in spreading economic sustainability and environmental conservation of our nation’s bountiful marine resources,” she added.

The resolution available online at https://www.merkley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sos%20Sea%20Grant%20Resolution%20Final.pdf notes than 42 percent of the population of the United States lives or works in coastal areas and that coastal counties contribute over $7.6 trillion annually to the economy.

The resolution also indicates that the National Sea Grant College program had an economic impact of $575 million in 2015 from a Federal investment of $67.3 million, an 854-percent return on investment.

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