A Special Message From the Director of Wisconsin Sea Grant
For Federal Budget Year FY19, Administration Proposes Sea Grant Elimination; Stakeholders Rally

"We appreciate the FY18 funding for Sea Grant because important work to sustain the Great Lakes and coastal communities can go forward," Wisconsin Sea Grant Director Jim Hurley said. "We look forward to having FY19 funding settled."

Credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant

Dec. 7, 2018

Congress has been working on a series of proposals to fund the federal government for the new budget year, which began on Oct. 1 and is referred to as Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. For this year and the second time in a row, the Administration had proposed elimination of Sea Grant. At this point in the budget-writing process, Congress has rejected that proposal as important committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have continued Sea Grant funding. The Senate recommends $83 million and the House put forth the figure of $80 million.

Because the final appropriation for Sea Grant and many other government programs was not determined when the new fiscal year started, Congress passed what is known as a continuing resolution. As of this writing, early in the day on Dec. 7, the president is expected to sign it and the legislation will fund Sea Grant at its FY 2018 level--$76.5 million. This continuing resolution will expire on Dec. 21, by which time Congress and the president will hope to have a settled figure for the new fiscal year.

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.”

What you can do. If interested, you can contact your Representative and Senators by phone, email or attend one of their town hall meetings. Please thank them for their past support for the National Sea Grant College Program and stress the support needs to continue for the upcoming FY 2019. For details on how to reach the members: For the House of Representatives, you can easily search for names of members of Congress and its contact information. For the Senate and its contact information.  

Thank you, 

Jim Hurley
Director, Wisconsin Sea Grant