Special message from the Sea Grant director

Nov. 21, 2019

Congress has not yet completed work on a new budget for the new fiscal year, FY 20, so the nation is operating on funding levels set for FY19. For the National Sea Grant Program, of which Wisconsin Sea Grant is a part, the program is operating under FY19’s number of $80 million despite the administration having proposed to remove it entirely from the budget and shut down the 33 programs operating in coastal and Great Lakes states. The administration has also proposed to eliminate the program for FY20, and did so in FY18 as well.  

In those previous years, we had been deeply grateful for the confidence members of Congress have shown in our ability to make a difference in coastal communities and on behalf of the Great Lakes themselves. The two successive years of proposed elimination had sparked an outpouring of support for Sea Grant and the funds were restored. We remain hopeful that will again happen for FY 20 after many stakeholders, partners, collaborators and friends speak up. They know full well that Sea Grant funds lakes Michigan and Superior research, and the application of the research to ensure the sustainable use of these crown jewels that underpin the quality of life and economy of our state. We are also deeply grateful for that confidence in our work. 

Wisconsin Sea Grant can demonstrate over and over the merit of its efforts through this federal-state program that is locally focused to serve coastal communities. There are numbers: From 2016 to 2018, Sea Grant received $3.6 million in core federal dollars that were matched by $1.8 million in state investment. That leveraged investments of $2.9 million in additional state, federal and outside funding. Currently, those funds are supporting 19 Sea Grant research projects on eight Wisconsin campuses and providing statewide outreach through extension activities. Initiatives include assessments of flood risk; conducting research on and providing awareness training related to dangerous waves and rip currents; providing assistance to the shipping industry to maximize its infrastructure; exploration of new harvest methods for commercial anglers; and the transfer of skills and knowledge to the state’s growing $21 million-aquaculture industry.

If you would like to make a comment to members of Congress regarding the value of Sea Grant, you can find your House of Representatives member at house.gov/representatives/find. Find your senators at senate.gov. Congress hopes to complete FY20 budget deliberations by Dec. 20.

Thank you, 

Jim Hurley
Director, Wisconsin Sea Grant