Wisconsin Sea Grant History

The Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program was the first in the Great Lakes region and exemplifies the best science for the sustainable use of the inland seas’ resources. For more than 40 years, this fully integrated program has translated its significant research findings into outreach and education across Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region and the nation to ensure healthy coastal ecosystems, safe and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and enhanced coastal community sustainability and resilience through collaborative relationships responsive to stakeholders and users. The results are measurable impacts on society, the economy and environment.

All activities take place within the structure of the University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center (ASC). The UW Sea Grant is headquartered on the system’s flagship campus – the University of Wisconsin-Madison – and includes additional offices on campuses in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Milwaukee and Superior, all coastal cities in Wisconsin. ASC is the administrative home of the Sea Grant Institute and UW Water Resources Institute (WRI)) two organizations with complementary missions. WRI promotes research, training and information dissemination to effectively confront water resources problems

It is a unique partnership of federal, state, university and private sectors that reflects "The Wisconsin Idea" in action.

In October 1972, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson designated the University of Wisconsin a Sea Grant College for its "sustained excellence in research, education and public service dedicated to wise use of America's marine resources."

Policy and operational responsibilities for the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program were formally transferred to University of Wisconsin-Madison, from the University of Wisconsin System, on Dec. 1, 1978. At the same time, the Sea Grant Institute was created as an academic unit under the UW-Madison Graduate School.

The institute was assigned the responsibility for administering the Sea Grant College Program for the UW System. Though the Sea Grant Institute is headquartered on the Madison campus, the Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program is UW System-wide and statewide in scope.

The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Advisory Council, appointed by the chancellor of the UW-Madison campus, provides policy guidance within established institutional goals, approves the overall program plan and budget, and participates in program planning and the selection of subject areas within which project proposals are solicited. The council brings a wide variety of viewpoints to the program; its members represent other units of the university system, state and local government, industry, and the public -- which ensures the accountability of the program to users and participants.

In 1992, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Committee on Advisory Services was formed to provide additional guidance on the direction of the program's outreach efforts. The University of Wisconsin program has historically emphasized research on microcontaminants and water quality, fishery and ecosystem dynamics, and estuarine systems and management.

Though many of the program's coordinated research activities center on the resources and problems of the Great Lakes, much of Wisconsin Sea Grant's research and outreach activities are national, some international, in scope. We are continually building on these strengths.

The National Sea Grant Program consists of 33 university-based programs that work with coastal communities. The program engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources.