Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and John Kerry (D-Mass.) joined today to introduce a bill to reauthorize the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant), which provides education, training, and technical assistance programs that promote the understanding and utilization of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.
The Sea Grant Program is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), university based programs, coastal and Great Lakes states, industry, and 300 partner institutions that addresses national, regional, and local coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes issues.
The National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2008 would authorize $625 million for fiscal year (FY) 2009 through FY 2014. The bill also would invest in services that integrate scientific research and extension services, and encourage increased collaboration among state Sea Grant programs.
"There is no better education than hands on experience. The Sea Grant Program links university and government researchers to create a partnership that contributes immensely to the understanding of our coastal ecosystems," said Senator Inouye, Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. "Their joint efforts have yielded positive results in Hawaii and across the nation that include discovering means to provide for a safe and sustainable seafood supply, sustainable coastal development, and resilient coastal communities."
"Reauthorizing the National Sea Grant College Program is vital to keeping America's oceans and coasts healthy," said Senator Stevens, Vice Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. "The Sea Grant program has been valuable in providing research and outreach to Alaska's fishing community and has helped Alaska maintain its status as a leader in sustainable fisheries."
"Sea Grant has been a great program for Washington state, our universities, and our coastal communities. Its emphasis on public education and engagement instills a sense of community ownership and heritage for coastal and marine environments. This bill will further strengthen this already successful program, allowing Sea Grant colleges to continue to grow, collaborate, and serve our coastal communities," said Senator Cantwell, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
"Coastal communities in Maine -- and throughout the nation -- have reaped tremendous benefits from the work of the National Sea Grant College Program," said Senator Snowe, the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. "Through four decades of marine scientific research, education, outreach, and training made possible by the network of Sea Grant Colleges, our coastal planners and citizens are able to make better decisions and promote the stewardship that is essential for conserving and managing our coastal resources. I am proud to continue my long-standing support of this program and co-sponsor the National Sea Grant Amendments Act of 2008 so we can continue its proud legacy of improving the lives and livelihoods of our coastal citizens."
"For decades, students and researchers in the Sea Grant effort have worked to answer cutting edge, critical questions impacting Massachusetts' coastal waters and helped coastal states address everything from fisheries and ecosystems to aquaculture," said Senator Kerry.
Modeled after the Land Grant College System, the National Sea Grant College Program Act of 1966 created Sea Grant. This bill would reauthorize Sea Grant for the tenth time.