The National Sea Grant College Program is a federal-state-university partnership with 34 programs across the nation, including the program here in Wisconsin.
Because federal dollars contribute to our ability to meet the needs of Wisconsin’s coastal communities, and in service to the Great Lakes ecosystem as a whole, we pay attention to funding levels proposed by the administration. Recently, the president released his Fiscal Year 2022 budget and it included a request to support the national Sea Grant program at the level of $116 million with an additional $13.1 million for Sea Grant Aquaculture, for a total request of $128.8 million.
Wisconsin Sea Grant can demonstrate over and over the merit of its efforts and how it would put those dollars to good use. There are numbers: From 2018 to 2020, Sea Grant received $4.1 million in core federal dollars that were matched by $2 million in state investment. That leveraged investments of $4.5 million in additional state, federal and outside funding.
Currently, those funds are supporting 15 Sea Grant research projects, three education projects and 32 outreach efforts happening from a base on seven Wisconsin campuses. Initiatives include addressing record-high Great Lakes water levels, the “forever” chemicals PFAS, and the transfer of skills and knowledge to the state’s growing $21 million-aquaculture industry.
It’s good news that the president recognizes the value of work such as this, and at similar Sea Grant programs throughout the U.S. The administration’s budget is considered a starting point and Congressional committees will now shape the final spending plan that, by law, needs approval in time for the new federal fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1.
We are deeply grateful for the confidence President Biden has shown in Sea Grant’s promise and delivery, particularly in the areas of resiliency and addressing the needs of underserved communities.
We are deeply grateful for confidence that members of Congress have shown in the past in our ability to make a difference in coastal communities and on behalf of the Great Lakes themselves.
Finally, and just as importantly, we are deeply grateful to our stakeholders, partners, collaborators and friends who offer an outpouring of support for our work. You 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.
If you would like to make a comment to members of Congress regarding the value of Sea Grant and the budget being proposed for what is known as FY22, you can find your House of Representatives member at house.gov/representatives/find. Find your senators at senate.gov.
And to learn more about our current projects and impacts, check out this fact sheet.
Director, Wisconsin Sea Grant