Congress has been directed by the Administration to slash $1 billion out of NOAA’s ocean and weather programs. Join with us to speak out for oceans to maintain funding of our nation’s ocean programs that include exploration and fisheries research, weather and coping with shifting baselines.
The Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce will prepare NOAA’s budget. The Administration has called for slashing up to a billion dollars to eliminate coastal zone management and cuts the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) by 26 percent, and cuts the weather and climate satellite program by 22 percent. We call on Congress to fully fund NOAA’s budget. The oceans are public commons that we all depend on in many different ways.
NOAA University-based Sea Grant Programs have been singled out for elimination. These are 33 federal-private partnerships that use science, outreach and education to positively impact coastal communities. The Sea Grant program creates or retains over 20,000 jobs and nearly 3,000 businesses annually.
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service with our nation’s fisheries and seafood services a $214-billion-dollar industry where fishermen rely on information from NOAA to make the most informed decisions on where to fish, how to fish and when to fish. Fishermen are often employed to provide valuable research. As a result of improved management, only 10% of the commercially valuable fish stocks are not yet sustainably fished (28 out of 232). With sufficient funding and collaborative research our ocean fisheries can become 100% sustainable.
NOAA works to build resilient coasts that are more storm-ready and prepared for threats like sea level rise and ocean acidification. Coastal wetland buffer zones in the U.S. are estimated to provide $23.2 billion per year in storm protection. The Estuary Restoration Program is a comprehensive interagency program that focuses on the restoration of the nation’s estuaries and administers the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council, of which NOAA is a member.
The Ocean Acidification Program, which tracks changes in ocean chemistry, provides early warnings and investment information to help fisherman and aquaculture owners avoid or prepare for risks. For example, this program funded the development of early warning systems to help oyster growers from losing their oyster stocks to rising ocean acidification.
Cuts have been called for to the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, which explores our relatively unknown oceans. Exploration vessels are today running live video feeds of dives into classrooms across America and develops curricula materials to package with videos.
While most of U.S. ocean is under federal jurisdiction, many of NOAA’s programs focus on pushing resources and collaborative decision-making power out to regions, states, tribal groups, and communities. From region-by-region fishery management, to region-specific programs like the Northeast Ocean Planning Council, to extramural funding that supports state agencies and universities, to place-based conservation in our estuaries and oceans, NOAA is providing leverage for hardworking people on the coast and on the water who are fighting for a stronger economy and a healthier ocean.
Only you can speak to Congress as constituents explaining why we need and depend on level-funded ocean programs. When you write please be specific in ways that others may relate to. Be descriptive so that budget-makers may see that for you ocean programs are personal, vital parts of your life.
Northeastern University’s Husky Environmental Action Team and University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Society of Environmental Scientists are taking the lead on engaging other student groups in saving the ocean by convincing Congress to level fund NOAA.