Special message from the Sea Grant director

Feb. 15, 2019

Congress passed and the president today signed a bill that will fund the National Sea Grant College Program, and therefore Wisconsin Sea Grant, for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The funding level is $80 million, which represents $3.5 million over the previous year’s appropriation. This marks a tremendous vote of confidence in the work Sea Grant does in coastal communities across the nation, including for those along the shores of lakes Michigan and Superior. This is also significant because for FY 2019, and the previous year, the Administration had proposed elimination of Sea Grant.

We are 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. Many stakeholders, partners, collaborators and friends spoke up about the value of the program when it comes to Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities. 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 2014 to 2016, Sea Grant received $3.6 million in core federal dollars that were matched by $1.8 million in state investment. That leveraged investments of $3.9 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.

There are also first-person stories:

· “Wisconsin Sea Grant is leading efforts to engage and collaborate with elected officials related to water quality topics in the broader Green Bay area. That work is one of countless examples of the great work of Sea Grant specialists.”

· “UW Sea Grant has been a leader in the fight against invasive species. At times, it seems that it has not been enough, but in reality without Sea Grant there would be no agency out there taking the lead in what appears to be the No. 1 negative impacting issue facing the Great Lakes.”

· “Wisconsin Sea Grant has been indispensable in supporting research on the Great Lakes; no other state or federal agency has supported science in a comprehensive and coordinated way to further the wise management, conservation, and restoration of Great Lakes ecosystems.”

· “Wisconsin Sea Grant has also been indispensable in developing careers of scientists who focus their interests and energies on the Great Lakes.”

Thank you, 

Jim Hurley
Director, Wisconsin Sea Grant